ARTFARM’s outdoor theater productions, now in their eleventh season in a beautiful cedar grove overlooking the Connecticut River Valley in Middletown, are unique in offering audiences the opportunity to picnic before the play begins while listening to some of Connecticut’s top musical talent.
Shakespeare in the Grove theater performances begin each evening at 7 pm from July 13 – 17 & 20 – 24 on the campus of Middlesex Community College. This summer the company is offering classic theater of Italy, presenting Carlo Goldoni’s comedy The Servant of Two Masters. This fast-paced, very accessible 1740 Commedia dell’ Arte masterpiece is one of the most performed comedies of the Western canon, and will be a treat for all ages.
At 6 pm each evening of the run a different Connecticut musical artist or group plays a 45 minute set in the Grove as the audiences arrive with their blankets, lawn chairs and picnics. Popcorn and ice cream are available for sale on site, but otherwise patrons are responsible for bringing their own food and beverages. A section closest to the stage is reserved for blankets only, but there is plenty of space on the hillside for lawn chairs, little tables, and the accoutrements of the serious outdoor arts event attendee.
This year’s ten performance run offers a particularly diverse and impressive assortment of musical guests, and though they “warm up” the audience for the play each is a “headliner” in his or her own right.
Here is the lineup for Shakespeare in the Grove 2016. Music begins at 6 pm every night; venue opens at 5:30 pm:
Wednesday, July 13: Stacy Phillips, an internationally acclaimed resonator guitarist and violin player, returns to the Grove for the third year. He has performed with the top acoustic musicians over the world, and is featured artist on the Grammy award-winning album The Great Dobro Sessions. http://www.stacyphillips.com
Thursday, July 14: Banning Eyre is a writer, guitarist, photographer and lead producer for the syndicated, Peabody Award-winning public radio program Afropop Worldwide. He is familiar to NPR listeners through his world music commentaries on All Things Considered. A Middletown resident, he also plays with the New York-based band Timbila, and will be joined by bass player Dirck Westervelt. http://www.banningeyre.com
Friday, July 15: Joe Flood, playing a variety of stringed instruments, will be playing in the Grove for the first time this year. He delivers original material in what Karen Schoemer in the New York Times called "a gravelly voice that perfectly straddles the fence between country and the blues." His songs inhabit a place where folk and blues roots meet the craft of Tin Pan Alley and the soul of the street. http://www.joeflood.net/
Saturday, July 16: Waberi Jordan will also be having her ARTFARM debut this summer; she has been making music all of her life and has recently moved to the area from Southern California. Some have said her voice is reminiscent of Betty Carter, Shirley Bassey, Billie Holiday or Roberta Flack... but it has a particular sound that belongs to no one else. Waberi is dedicated to upholding a standard of artistry that serves to uplift, enlighten and most of all evolve Black music. https://musicians.allaboutjazz.com/waberi-vocalist
Sunday, July 17: Noah Baerman is a Middletown-based jazz pianist and composer who is consistently one of the most popular Shakespeare in the Grove Headliners. A bandleader with eight CD’s in his catalog and an international reputation, Noah will be performing with a trio this year and offering some new work to the community. http://www.noahjazz.com/home.html
Wednesday, July 20: Andrew Biagiarelli developed his musical style on the road as a young vagabond wandering the American west and the Caribbean Isles, translating his experiences into songs varying in style from reggae to funk and hip-hop to acoustic folk. https://soundcloud.com/andrew-biagiarelli
Thursday, July 21: Krizta Moon is a music therapist, storyteller and singer songwriter whose songs elicit mystical warmth and devious charm threaded together with a reflection of divine connection. She tenderly accompanies herself on acoustic guitar with lavishly warm harmonies laid on the spot with a looping pedal.
Friday, July 22: Nancy Tucker blends outrageous comedy, spirited guitar instrumentals and moving songs of human experience in her shows for people of all ages. Her music and comedy center around a passion for life and laughter. Nancy captures each audience's imagination and heart with gentle invitation and contagious lunacy. http://www.nancytucker.info
Saturday, July 23: Anitra Brooks, a Middletown native who now lives in the NY Metropolitan area, has performed at ARTFARM multiple times as a musician and also as an actor in As You Like It. With a resonant contralto encompassing all five natural elements, Anitra is unique among women singers. The alluring timbre and warmth of her voice ranges in expression from tantalizing and ethereal to soulful and grounded. This year she will be joined by bassist/vocalist Eric Kuhn and drummer Trevor Davis. http://anitrabrooksmusic.com/story
Sunday, July 24: Kate Callahan, Connecticut’s State Troubador, is back for her third summer in the Grove. A folk singer and songwriter from West Hartford, CT, Kate was
awarded Best Singer-Songwriter of 2013 at the CT Music Awards and was a nominee for Best Songwriter in New England 2014. Her lyrics have been called “Zen-like” by folk legend Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul, and Mary. http://www.kate-callahan.com/
ARTFARM’s Shakespeare in the Grove 2016 performances of The Servant of Two Masters will be held in the Cedar Grove on the campus of Middlesex Community College, 100 Training Hill Road in Middletown. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for kids. The Wednesday evening performances are “Pay-What-You-Can”. There will be a talkback with director Dic Wheeler and cast following the July 22 performance.
ARTFARM is known for its bold storytelling and strong physical acting in bringing professional classic theater with live musical accompaniment to Middletown since 2006.
Shakespeare in the Grove is co-produced by Middlesex Community College and is made possible by support from the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Pratt and Whitney and many generous individual donors and local businesses. For more information go to www.art-farm.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (860) 346-4390.