Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

A photo from the 2012 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.

A photo from the 2012 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.

There are only a handful of events that we have made annual traditions since we moved here four years ago, and one of those is the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Zoo. How can you not be impressed with 5,000 intricately carved and painted pumpkins lit from within nestled within the woodsy paths of the zoo?

This year, they’ve upgraded their snacks so now I can eat some Gerbs spicy pumpkin seeds and sip a Union Station pumpkin ale during my walk. And for the kids, there’s still plenty of cotton candy, soft pretzels and hot cider to be found.

The theme this year, Pumpkinville, USA showcases regions of the country–our older daughter’s favorite was a showcase of jack-o-lanterns staged around a Wild West façade that featured a general store, sheriff and county jail. I always love the finalé, which features hundreds of mini jack-o-lanterns strung on every tree and branch with Winx’s Don’t Laugh playing.

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular
at Roger Williams Park Zoo

October 3 – November 3, 6pm – 11pm, with the last admission at 10pm. On Saturdays, admission will be extended an hour, with the last admission at 11pm, and the trail closing at 12am.

Gerbs Gourmet Seeds

Union Station Brewery
36 Exchange Terrace
Providence, RI

See also write-up of the 2009 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.

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Sandra-Feinstein Gamm Theatre

A still from the play Far Away by Caryl Churchill at Gamm Theatre.

A still from the play Far Away by Caryl Churchill at Gamm Theatre.

At the recent prompting of a friend, we decided to buy season subscriptions to the Sandra-Feinstein Gamm Theatre. Last weekend we attended the first of five shows, and the theatre immediately reminded us of the Lyric Stage in Boston — an intimate space with modest, but cleverly designed sets.

The first show of the season features two short plays by Caryl Churchill, The Number and Far Away. I preferred the first, and Geoff the second, but honestly both presented an eerie story about the decreasing value of humanity and individuality in a post-modern world. Ok, that makes them sound a bit depressing, which was only partially true. They were also funny, and the actors handled the shift between tragedy and comedy seamlessly.

Although this show ends October 13, there are still four more in the season to attend  (and you can get a reduced-price subscription for just those four). The rest of their 29th season includes Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire (November 7-December 8, 2013); The Big Meal by Dan LeFranc (January 9-February 9, 2014); Macbeth by William Shakespeare (March 6-April 13, 2014); Blackbird by David Harrower (May 1-June 1, 2014).

The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre
172 Exchange St.
Pawtucket, RI

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Antiques, handmade crafts, clothes and plenty of food trucks at the opening day of Providence Flea.

Antiques, handmade crafts, clothes and plenty of food trucks at the opening day of Providence Flea.

It’s exactly what Providence has been missing — a weekly flea market. Held every Sunday from 10 am til 4 pm (extended through September 15), you’ll find hand-crafted jewelry, lightly worn clothes, antique furniture, housewares, and the like. And there’s no need to wonder where to find the food trucks on Sundays. You’ll find them at Providence Flea.

Providence Flea

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The instrument free-for-all

During each class, there’s an instrument free-for-all where the children can try out different sounds.

Since she was only a few months old, I’ve taken my two-year-old daughter to Music Together — first in East Providence and now on the East Side of Providence. Classes are broken into nine-week intervals with a different theme (and CD to go with it) — Triangle, Bongo, Drum, etc.. The songs include simple sound combinations like Biddy Biddy to favorites like Palo Palo and John the Rabbit, so that children can start singing along as soon as they can make sounds.

Local mom and musician Jen Romanat runs our East Side Music Together class — in our most recent class, Jen led songs on both her guitar and ukulele, and the children sang, dance, spun with the parachute, and tried out a variety of instruments including drums, maracas, and tamborines.

Who wouldn't love parachute play?

Who wouldn’t love parachute play?

The Music Together philosophy suggests that children learn music through adults who model it for them so the class encourages adult participation. And although the children may be quiet during the class, don’t think that they aren’t listening, absorbing and learning. My daughter who sat pensively throughout many of the songs during the last class came home singing them and making the clicking horse noise she learned that day.

Note: Jen Romanat will also be performing at the Hope Street Market on July 3, July 24, August 7, August 21; the Armory Market on July 11, July 18 and August 15; and Gladys Potter Park (Humboldt) throughout the summer.

East Side Music Together

Music Together

Just Pickin’ Flowers (Jen’s Music)

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Becoming part of the installation "How to Build a Forest"

Becoming part of the installation “How to Build a Forest”

I often find contemporary art installations a bit baffling, but I nonetheless decided to take my daughters to the “How to Build a Forest” installation at the Granoff Center for the Arts. So last night, the three of us walked in to a quiet room filled with spectators in seats observing diaphanous trees slowly rising and partially filled rubber balls being rolled around the room. We received a few instructions (from Brown student and filmmaker Laura Colella, no less)–remove your shoes, stay on the wood floor, and be careful what you touch since the forest is delicate. These rules seemed simple enough except, of course, if you happen to be two- or five-years-old.  I politely took a seat and would have liked the girls do the same. Instead they improvised–taking on the roles of animals in the forest, crawling on all fours and making strange noises while (fortunately) still respecting the forest structures. As it turns out, they became part of the show. Perhaps that’s the point.

Note: Although 2/28/13 marked the end of Lisa D’Amour, Katie Pearl and Shawn Hall’s “How to Build a Forest” exhibit, you can attend a future Granoff Center exhibit or art installation. See more about “How to Build a Forest” at

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Festival Ballet's most recent performance included an amended version of Little Red Riding Hood.

Festival Ballet’s most recent performance included an amended version of Little Red Riding Hood. Photo By Matt Francis. Design by Fatoumata Camara. In this Photo: FBP Company Apprentice Mady Issa.

“The seats are in the fourth row, is that all right?” the woman over the phone inquired when I bought my tickets for Festival Ballet’s production of Little Red Riding Hood. As it turns out, there are only four rows in the theater, and as such, there’s not a bad seat in the house. Located at their studio space (where they also offer classes for adults and children of all levels), this small theater offers a perfect venue for an intimate show where children especially can feel close enough to the action to remain engaged.

Mushroom Costume. Design by Brianne Benack. Photo by Matt Francis. In this photo: FBP Company Trainee Eugenia Zinovieva

Mushroom Costume. Design by Brianne Benack. Photo by Matt Francis. In this photo: FBP Company Trainee Eugenia Zinovieva

You won’t be wowed with fancy sets here, but you will be impressed by skillful performances by a dozen talented ballet dancers. For Little Red Riding Hood, the theater partnered with RISD’s Junior Cut & Sew Studio to produce some wonderfully intricate costumes. To make the show less fearsome, they amended the story–the hooded dancing wolf escapes from Central Park Zoo and wants to eat Little Red Riding Hood’s cookies, not the girl herself.

As if that’s not enough to convince you, the show concludes with milk and cookies from Seven Stars Bakery, along with a chance to meet and talk with the dancers.

Although the performances of Little Red Riding Hood are already sold out, the Festival Ballet line-up includes several other upcoming shows for both children and adults.

Festival Ballet
825 Hope Street
Providence, RI

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The proud owner of a handmade doll–that is, made by her very own hands.

Soccer, gymnastics, piano — these are the afterschool activities that may typically come to mind. But sewing?

Since Geoff bought himself a sewing machine last year, our five-year-old daughter has taken an interest in a new type of arts–the material kind. So for her birthday, she received a private sewing workshop from Kreatelier’s Alexis Cormier. When I left her there with Geoff, I figured she’d make a little hand-puppet or something. Instead, I arrived an hour later to discover she had nearly completed a doll in her own likeness, down to the curly hair.

Of course, in addition to the sewing workshops for children and adults, Kreatelier is also a store selling locally handmade bags, pillows, fabric jewelry, clothes and other items. And for anyone not interested in making a doll from scratch, those are for sale too–complete with custom clothes and shoes.

804 Hope Street
Providence, RI

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