Arts Beat

By Mark G. Auerbach


“Mr. Parent,” Melinda Lopez’ portrait of Maurice Emmanuel Parent, Boston-based artist and educator, streams from TheaterWorks’ WORKshop series through March 26. Conceived and directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian from the New York Theatre Workshop, the new play stars Parent as Parent. Lopez, Playwright-in-Residence at Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company, took the story of Parent, a well-known Boston actor and Boston Public Schools teacher, and fashioned it for the stage. Parent’s story is joyful, hilarious, and an heartbreakingly honest journey of an actor who is also a teacher, and also a love letter to Boston. “Mr. Parent” is a developmental piece and a streamed reading of a new play. For details: www.twhartford.org

“Letters to Kamala,” Rachel Lynett’s play directed by Nicole Brewer, opens WAM Theatre’s 12th season, streaming as part of the Fresh Takes Play Reading series, March 14-17. In the tense lead up to the 2020 presidential election, playwright Rachel Lynett conjures three female American political leaders of the past (Charlotta Bass, the first Black woman candidate for VP; Charlene Mitchell, the first Black woman to run for President, and Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink, first woman of color to be elected to the House of Representatives) to share their wisdom, perspective, and wry humor with VP candidate Kamala Harris. Lili Hokama, who Berkshires audiences will remember from her recent performance in I And You at Chester Theatre) stars as Ming. For details: www.wamtheatre.com.


“Riffing The Reality: Women, Gender and Jazz”, a virtual conversation and concert streams from the UMass Fine Arts Center on March 10, under the auspices of the Valley Jazz Network and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice Institute. The evening begins with a panel discussion which includes Grammy winning drummer and composer Terri Lynn Carrington, jazz scholar Tammy Kernodle, singer and educator Sarah Elizabeth Charles, and others moderated by local jazz programmer Yvonne Mendez. Carrington and her students perform following the panel. The event is free. Advance tickets are required. For details: www.fineartscenter.com.


“Rhapsody in Black” streams courtesy of the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center through March 14. Written and performed by LeLand Gantt and developed at New York Cioty’s Actors Studio with Estelle Parsons, Rhapsody in Black is a one-man show that chronicles LeLand’s personal journey to understanding and confronting racism in America. For performance details and information on a community conversation on March 14: www.mahaiwe.org.

Playhouse on Park will hold its annual Encore! Fundraiser outdoors at 5 Auerfarm in Bloomfield, CT on June 12. This year’s theme is A Midsummer Fantastical Fairytale, which includes food and drink, entertainment, and wonderment, all outdoors and socially-distanced. For details: www.playhouseonpark.org.

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s new installment of Masterworks-in-Depth with Carolyn Kuan, presents an online discussion of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 on March 12-17, when the Beethoven masterpiece would have been performed live at The Bushnell. Cellist Peter Zay and violinist Lu Sun Friedman, both musicians with the HSO, join Maestra Kuan. For details: www.hartfordsymphony.org.


The UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center continues its Bodies at Risk series of BIPOC artist presentations and conversations.On March 13, a special dance film and conversation event features two of  America’s leading hip-hop dance artists, Rennie Harris and Jon Boogz. On March 18, interdisciplinary dance theater artists Emily Johnson and Alice Sheppard engage in an artistic encounter and conversation.  Admission is free. Advance registration is required. For details: www.fineartscenter.com.

Selected Shorts, the short story program popular on public radio and podcast, will stream a special program of comic shorts on April 10, from Northampton’s Academy of Music Theatre. The cast includes: Maulik Pancholy (30 Rock), Liev Schreiber (Jack Donovan), and Natasha Rockwell (Insecure). For details: https://www.aomtheatre.com/


“I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,” Hailey Brinnel’s new album of jazz and pop standards, has been released. The Longmeadow native, a finalist in the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Competition, got her start playing clubs in Western Massachusetts, often with her dad, keyboard player and singer Dave Brinnel. Her trombone and singing skills are gaining national attention. For details: https://www.haileybrinnel.com/


Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and The Yale School of Drama. He has worked for arts organizations nationwide and reported on the arts for print and broadcast. Mark produces and hosts ArtsBeat and On The Mark for WCPC15 and 89.5fm/WSKB, and he’s a regular contributor to Pioneer Valley Radio.


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