Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tap dancing, choreography featured in "Anything Goes" Feb. 21-23 at MGRHS


WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – For the first time in three decades, toes will be tapping sharply and in tune as “Anything Goes,” the venerable musical farce scored by one-time Williamstown resident Cole Porter, lights up the stage for three nights next week at Mount Greylock Regional High School.

The musical – featuring choreographed tap-dancing, a 20-member student cast and about 20 of the best-known and most beloved songs in American theater – will be staged Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 28-March 1, at 7 p.m. at the regional high school. Tickets at the door are $8 for adults, $6 for students and admission is free for children six and under accompanied by parent or guardian. The show runs a little over two hours, including an intermission, during which baked goods and refreshments will be sold.

“I don’t want to use the world wholesome because it makes it sound kind of square,” says history teacher Jeff Welch, who is directing the musical with the help of chorus teacher Marlene Walt and band teacher Lyndon Moors. “But it’s certainly a family show – and it’s the first time we’ve had tap dancing is at least 30 years, I think.”

Walt called the show in one interview “peppy, fun, American classic . . . it’s very memorable, very singable.”

To undertake the “more intriquet choreography than anything we’ve done in a long time,” said Welch, MGRHS senior Sofia Brooks wrote a grant application to the school-support “SEE Fund” – part of the Berkshire-Taconic Foundation – to fund the hiring of choreographer Anne-Marie Rodriguez and rental of tap-dancing equipment.
MGRHS – Anything Goes
Feb. 18, 2008
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Cole Porter scored “Anything Goes” for its original 1934 Broadway debut. It’s a farce set below decks on an ocean liner bound for London from New York. The plot features a lovesick Wall Street broker Billy Crocker (played by Chris Densmore), who stows away, hoping to win the heart of his beloved Hope Harcourt (Lizzy Fox). But his boss is also on board, along with an array of other characters, including an English nobleman Harcourt is slated to marry, a gangster and his mistress, (disguised as a minister and missionary) and an evangelizing nightclub singer.

“Anything Goes,” was revived in 1962 and 1987. The 1934 debut featured a 30ish Ethel Merman as evangelizing nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (played at MGRHS by Anna Swann-Pye). The original script was a collaboration of Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, as revised by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse. It introduced such songs as "Anything Goes", “Blow Gabriel, Blow,” “Friendship”, "You're the Top", and "I Get a Kick Out of You.”

A Jan. 24 appeal for a pianist to help with the production resulted in Williamstown resident Laurie Brenner, parent of MGRHS senior Torrey Brenner, volunteering, said Welch.

Cole Porter was born in Indiana in 1991, son of wealth parents. As a boy he took lessons in piano and violin, and began writing songs while at Worcester Academy. He attended Yale College (Class of 1913), where he composed still-used football fight songs. After graduating, he went on to Harvard Law School, but began studying music instead.

In the 1930s he became famous and prosperous with the success of his musicals. In 1937, however, Porter's life took a tragic turn when both of his legs were crushed by a horse, leaving him unable to walk and in chronic pain. Porter and his wife purchased a home on Buxton Hill in Williamstown in 1940. He died in Santa Monica, Calif. on Oct. 15, 1964.

The complete cast includes (males): Collin Delano as Elisha Whitney, Chris Densmore as Billy Crocker, Ryan Erickson as bishop/captain/purser, Mitch Galli as Moonface Martin, Patrick Madden as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh. Also, (females): Lizzie Fox as Hope Harcourt, Anna Swann-Pye as Reno Sweeney, Olivia Tousignant-Pienkos as Bonnie andGwendolyn Tunnicliffe as Ms. Wadsworth T. Harcourt.

The ensemble includes Amanda Burdick, Dakota Garrity, Molly Hynes, Krista Mangiardi, Sarah Robinson, Cassandra Sherman, Johanna Tremblay and Tori Wonderlick. Angels are played by Ally Allen, Isabel Kaufman and Petra Mijanovic.

For more information or to order group tickets, contact Jeff Welch at 458-9582 ext. 109, or Lyndon Moors at ext. 167 or email jpwelch@mgrhs.org.

Monday, February 18, 2008

TEXT: Williams, MCLA, Bennington and high-school students staging political-action weekend

Stuart Burns (sburns@williams.edu -- 597-4849), Williams College coordinator of community engagement and special academic programs, has sent around to high schools and news organizations in the Berkshires and southwestern Vermont this news release:

HEADLINE: Willimas announces weekend for change

This weekend (Feb. 23-24), Williams, MCLA, and Bennington students intend to show that it is not only up to presidential candidates to bring about social change. Citizen activists have an equally vital role to play.

On Sat., Feb 23, the Williams Center for Community Engagement will host the second annual Berkshire Institute for Student Activism (BISA) Leadership Conference, on the Williams campus. The theme is "Framing a Second Bill of Rights."

During World War II, President Roosevelt called for a "second Bill of Rights" to free all Americans from fear and want. A generation later, Martin Luther King Jr. launched a human rights movement to
secure an economic and social Bill of Rights to end poverty and propel prosperity. The student organizers of the BISA conference believe that in 2008 the time is ripe to move toward this goal, with poverty worsening, but with hopeful political opportunities opening up.

The multi-college BISA conference is comprised of morning workshops on leadership skills such as presentation and negotiation skills and creating community coalitions, and afternoon workshops on pressing issues such as health care, immigrant rights, climate change, food security, violence against women, and promoting college access. The goal is for each student to leave the conference committed to work on one of the specific campaigns explored in the afternoon workshops.

The workshop leaders are experts from western Mass., as well as from Boston and Connecticut. Featured presenters are Randy Kehler, an organizer of the Safe and Green campaign to close the Vernon, Vermont, nuclear power plant; Chip Joffe-Halpern, director of Ecu-Health Care and an architect of the Massachusetts health reform; and Jo Comerford, program director of the Western Mass. Food Bank.

The day-long leadership conference, starting at 9 am, is open to all college and high school students and is free, with lunch provided. For more information or to pre-register, visit williams.edu/resources/commservice/bisa.

The BISA conference is sponsored by the Center for Community Engagement and the Schumann Program in Democratic Studies at Williams.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

TEXT/NEWS: Sole local radio station in Bennington, Vt., goes on the block

Contact: David Scribner, SVC Communications, 802-447-6389, or
Marion Whiteford, 802-447-6388

College seeks community partnership to take over WBTN 1370-AM radio station

(BENNINGTON, Vt. -- Citing a fresh focus on new academic programs, the Southern Vermont College Board of Trustees concluded last week that the College can no longer underwrite the losses at WBTN 1370-AM, the local
commercial radio station that the college has owned since 2001. As a result, the college is now considering a series of options for the venerable community station that include sale or lease.

The college must focus on its main mission and must concentrate its efforts and resources on educating students with exciting new academic initiatives,. explained Trustee Jon Goodrich. “Unfortunately, we cannot continue to subsidize a commercial radio station. If in some way we can partner with a radio entrepreneur and help further the education of our students, it is a win-win.""

Among the new programs the College is introducing is “Build the Enterprise," a cross-disciplinary initiative wherein teams of students plan, implement and manage their own businesses. The student-created businesses will be able to tap into a $100,000 Venture Fund for capitalization. In addition, this spring the College is inaugurating a "roving professor" faculty position which would initially provide instructional expertise in the field of pharmacology for a variety of courses but eventually will be expanded to instruction in the areas of communications, visual arts and sustainability across different academic divisions.

The college is also planning to expand its popular nursing and radiologic technology programs with a new health care leadership major.

In September, the trustees began to examine whether, in face mounting losses at WBTN, the College should retain the radio station, donated to the college by trustee Robert Howe, and what other options for station ownership there might be. The Board of Trustees determined that the College should eliminate the losses generated by the station by the end of the spring term in May.

In the meantime, the college is eager to entertain proposals from community groups and others to take over station operations. The college is also considering the retention of the broadcast license for future use as a college and community nonprofit station.

"We take seriously and respect the role we have played in maintaining a community radio station as stewards of a broadcasting license, Board Chairman Wallace W. Altes said. "Whatever the configuration of WBTN's ownership in the future, we would hope that it would maintain its commitment to true community programming as well as
affording our communications students and members of the community the opportunity to produce local broadcast content, as it does now. An ideal outcome might be for a local group to take over this local media resource with whom we could partner."

Should an operator not come forth, the College might consider moving the station to the SVC campus, while using the existing WBTN facilities for other academic programs, Altes added.

Founded in 1926, Southern Vermont College offers a career-enhancing liberal arts education with 19 academic degree programs for approximately 450 students. Southern Vermont College recognizes the importance of educating students for the workplace of the twenty-first century and for lives as successful leaders in their communities. The college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.