Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Winter classes for ages 6 - 20 at Oddfellows

Registration is now open for winter classes and performance opportunities for ages 6 – 20 at Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown. Most activities will be held virtually on Zoom, with a few exceptions. For details, and more information, go to
www.oddfellows.org, call (860) 347-6143, or email info@oddfellows.org.

Teen Programs:

Young people ages 14 – 20 may join two Teen Rep Company programs this winter: “Writing Plays”, with Kristen Palmer, and “The Actor’s Tool Kit”, with Marcella Trowbridge.

“Writing Plays” offers the opportunity to work with a professional playwright to learn and develop the art of writing for the stage. The program will culminate in a “New Plays Festival” on February 20. The class meets virtually Thursdays, 6:30 – 8 pm, January 14 – February 18. Tuition is $50.

“The Actor’s Tool Kit” provides what every teen actor needs in their back pocket: facility with voice, body, breath, text, emotional literacy... train together and come out with tools of the trade - and a monologue, to boot. This class, taught by ARTFARM Artistic Director and classical actor Marcella Trowbridge, will meet in-person in the Oddfellows theater (with masks, social distancing, and other safety protocols) as long as COVID allows. Mondays, 6:30 – 8 pm, January 11 – February 15. Tuition: $50.

Circus enthusiasts (ages 12 – 20) may join “Circophony: The Movie”, an 8 week production complete with live and virtual classes, on-line tutorials and opportunities for students to work with designers to make a circus feature presentation. Students are invited to build their own rehearsal schedule and can participate in as many or few classes as they like. Students will create content which will be edited and compiled in a final digital production. Directed by Allison McDermott. Full group virtual sessions Saturdays, 11 – 11:50 am, plus other training and coaching opportunities. Tuition: $75.

An in-person “Contortion and Flexibility” class with Naja Muller will be offered in association with “Circophony: The Movie”. The class meets Thursdays, 4:30 – 6 pm, January 14 – March 4 at Oddfellows (masks/social distance/no touch coaching). Tuition for this class is $120. Limited to 5 students.

Junior Repertory Company (ages 11 – 14):

Our Junior Rep Company will be creating a “Virtual Mainstage Production” under the direction of Laugh Sanchez and Jacque Brown. The production will consist of original work created by the students over 8 weeks of rehearsals, focusing on finding their own voice through spoken word assignments and generative theater activities. Tuesdays, 6:30 – 7:30 pm & Thursdays, 5 – 6 pm, January 18 – March 20. Virtual performances March 19 & 20. Tuition: $75.

Ages 6 – 11:

Everyone is invited to stay healthy this winter through our FREE “Up On Your Feet” Series, hosted by Felicia Goodwine. This 8 week series will offer different movement and physically based activities every week, from dance to pilates to capoeira, hosted by dancer/choreographer Felicia with a bunch of guest teaching artists. This is our contribution to the physical and mental health of youngsters during this COVID winter, and everyone ages 6 – 11 is encouraged to join. Tuesdays, 5 – 6 pm, January 19 – March 9. Tuition is free, but registration is required.

“A Fairy Tale Mystery”, directed by Nicki LaPorte, offers kids ages 9 – 11 the chance to write and create an original mystery based on fairy tale characters. The virtual Share Day performance on February 25 will give friends and family the chance to try to solve the crime. Thursdays, 4:30 – 5:30 pm, January 21 – February 25. Tuition: $50.

“Ms. B’s Cultural Heritage and Enrichment Corner” is a unique opportunity for kids ages 9 – 11 to work with nationally-recognized social work educator and historian Velma Banks on learning about African-American history and the relevance of historical heroes today. Although the focus is on African-American culture, the class is open to children of all backgrounds. Wednesdays, 4:30 – 5:30 pm, January 20 – February 24. Tuition: $50.

The final classes out of the box this winter will be “Musical Mentoring”, coordinated by Julia Kan and featuring one-on-one virtual music lessons with Wesleyan music students. Kids can choose to study guitar, keyboard, voice, ukulele, violin, and possibly other instruments (depending on availability of mentors). Ages 6 – 8 will meet on Wednesdays, 4:30 – 5:30 pm, February 24 – March 31; ages 9 – 11 will meet Mondays, 4:30 – 5:30 pm, February 22 – March 29. Tuition: $50.

Financial Aid is available for all programs. It is Oddfellows Playhouse policy that no one will ever be turned away due to inability to pay.   

To register, or for more information, go to www.oddfellows.org, call (860) 347-6143, or email info@oddfellows.org. Space is limited for all programs, so timely registration is encouraged.

Oddfellows Playhouse programs are made possible thanks to generous support from The Fund for Greater Hartford; State of Connecticut Judicial Branch/Youth Violence Prevention; Connecticut Office of the Arts/DECD; Middletown Commission on the Arts; Stare Family Fund; Middletown Youth Services Bureau; American Savings Foundation; Thomas J. Atkins Fund; New England Arts Resilience Fund; Community Foundation of Middlesex County; CHEFA Cultural Relief Grant; the Hoffman Foundation; Long Foundation; and generous individual donors.


The Buttonwood Tree presents the Fifth Annual Fire of Hope (Online)

 December  31st @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EST 

This year sure was a strange and difficult one!  But there is hope for a brighter tomorrow.

There is so much going on beneath the surface in our Universe that we don’t realize how it affects us unconsciously, adding to our unrest, discomfort, anger and dismay. The Buttonwood Tree family offers an important message of hope and understanding, for those who dare to listen.

You're invited to hear an important message for 2021, to gather our positive intentions and energies to help our world, and to learn what we can to do to increase our chances for a peaceful, productful life going into this new year.  

Annaita Gandhy will introduce us to 2021 with an informative message offered with care and encouragement so that we can be more aware of our roles in our future together. These are challenging times and we need tools to navigate them to be successful and happy.

This year, for our fifth annual Fire of Hope, we’ll meet online, able to see multiple performers each from their home, and send messages back and forth to each other online. Our thanks to HannaH’s Field for taking care of the technology and supplying music to inspire and lift our spirits. And, as with all other Buttonwood programs at this time, we will include Moments of Gratitude 🙂

Weather permitting, we’ll make a the fire outside – to send our hopes up to the heavens, and if you wish, burn up our burdens as well. It’s all up to YOU. You can make your own fire, use a candle, or simply envision it all.


This is a new era … it’s time to live deliberately, positively and lovingly!

Join us!  BE part of the Goodness that we need more of in this world.  Photos below from 2018 and the conclusion of last year when we were inside TBT:
















Donations for Buttonwood are welcome and appreciated. This is a free event. Refreshments are up to you  🙂

Please sign up to be sure to get a link to the event. This will be broadcast over Facebook, LIVE from  The Buttonwood Tree’s PAGE. 

Please LIKE, Share and FOLLOW us!!  


BUTTONWOOD.org    (860) 347-4957  email to TheButtonwoodTree@gmail.com

Monday, December 28, 2020

Covid19 Cases and ICU beds in the Area

From The New York Times

The New York Times has added information on the occupancy of beds in Intensive Care Units. 

Please wear a mask, wash your hands, and socially distance!

Thursday, December 24, 2020



Here is a classic news editorial that will lift everyone’s spirit & mood during the age of the COVID-19 Pandemic.   It is very appropriate for the Christmas holiday season and for everyone who consider themselves to be “young at heart.”  From The Sun newspaper printed September 21, 1897. From the Newseum.org website.



“Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.”



DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”


Here is the website where I found this golden oldie of a great newspaper editorial:  



Merry Christmas and enjoy the video.  




Friday, December 18, 2020

From First Church in Middletown (UCC)


Sunday, December 20
at 4pm on YouTube


This year, the First Church in Middletown (UCC) Christmas Concert premieres on YouTube this Sunday,
Dec. 20, at 4pm.
Church members have come together with our Minister of Music, Shari Lucas, to record video clips that express the joys of the holidays. Our concert video
* combines clips of many performers and groups presenting Christmas readings and Christmas solos, our Heart in Hand Bell Choir, and other talented instrumentalists to bring the spirit of the holiday into your home.   
All of us at First Church hope the concert will bring the joy of Christmas to you and your family!

The YouTube link is:
and is titled “Christmas Concert 2020 First Church, Middletown, CT"

*Note that the premiere is Dec. 20 at 4:00 p.m., but you can watch it anytime after that using the above link.  Sing-a-long encouraged.