Keith Munslow will help ring in the new year with music, stories and poems for children. -->
The Scrooge-like economy may be forcing some communities to scale back their New Year’s Eve celebrations, but revelers in Providence, Newport, Fall River and Westerly will still be treated to everything from fireworks to the Friars, music to magicians and storytellers to sword swallowers.
Budget shortages threatened to snuff out Newport’s annual pyrotechnics display and the rest of the City-by-the-Sea’s celebration, but First Night Newport survived and will go off as planned, complete with fireworks over the harbor.
While Bright Night Providence had to cancel its fireworks — out of safety concerns, not financial problems — the city will replace it with a laser show. In addition, for the second year in a row, the festival has teamed up with the Providence College Friars men’s basketball squad, which will be playing Big East rival St. John’s University at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center during Bright Night festivities.
“The big thing is for everyone to gather together and ring in the New Year right,” said Adam Gertsacov, director of Bright Night Providence, the artist-run, nonprofit group that has organized the New Year’s Eve celebration in the capital city for the past six years.
While Bright Night’s budget this year is “slightly smaller,” Gertsacov said it will still feature close to 160 performers in 22 venues.
“The big focus of our event has always been the performers. We want to celebrate Rhode Island’s most important asset — its performers,” Gertsacov said.
Every year, Bright Night selects a different act to take center stage in the event. This year, the featured group is the Nerveless Nocks, a family of daredevil circus acrobats. The ninth generation family, which was formed in Switzerland and used to perform during the summers at the now-defunct Rocky Point Amusement Park, will give three shows at Rhode Island Convention Center.
In one act, Michelangelo Nock will climb a 20-foot-tall tower of chairs and do handstands on top. The troupe will also use a pendulum to perform leaps and somersaults.
“You definitely don’t want to miss this, but you definitely don’t want to try it at home,” said Gertsacov. “These guys are courageous and virtuosos at what they do. They’ve performed for kings and queens, on television and for the Super Bowl.”
Admission to the Nerveless Nocks is guaranteed with the purchase of a First Night wristband, which designates which of the three shows, either 6, 8 or 10 p.m., its holder may attend.
Wristbands, which provide free admission to all of the Bright Night venues, cost $10 in advance and $15 on the day of the event (when a family four-pack may be purchased for $50). They are for sale at BankRI locations, OOP! Stores, the East Side Marketplace and ArtTixRI, 155 Westminster St. They may also be bought online at www.brightnight.org or by calling (401) 621-6123.
The first 3,000 people with wristbands to go to the Dunkin’ Donuts center will get free tickets to see the Friars game. Tip-off is at 4 p.m.
Like the fireworks display (which fire officials said could not continue for lack of a safe location to shoot them off), the laser show will begin at midnight. It will last nearly 20 minutes and feature music.
“That’s one thing we were never able to do with the fireworks was coordinate sound and music,” Gertsacov said.
Among the other performers are the Big Nazo Puppets, bebop artist Greg Abate and Grammy winning storyteller and singer Bill Harley.
In Newport, the grand event of the family-oriented New Year festivities is a fireworks display that you don’t have to wait until midnight to see. The pyrotechnics begin at 9:15, shortly after a parade from Thompson Middle School, on Broadway, ends at the harbor.
The Brazilian Capoeira Dancers will give three 45-minute shows––at 6, 7 and 8 p.m.—in the cafeteria of the middle school. Downstairs, in the gym, there will also be face painting, balloon sculpture, a kids bounce and slide, a clown, a magician and dancing for kids.
Next door, at City Hall, folk performers will turn the council chambers into a concert venue featuring Ed McGuirl and Mike Fischmen, The Remnants and Leroy White. Bluegrass music will be played live at the Florence Murray Judicial Complex.
Other venues include the Newport Marriott, the Gateway Visitors Center, and the Jane Pickens Theater.
Buttons cost $10 and may be purchased online at www.firstnightnewport.org. Children under age 5 may enter venues at no charge. Buttons may also be purchased at the Gateway Visitors Center and the Music Box, 160 Thames St., in Jamestown at Baker’s Pharmacy, in Portsmouth at Clements’ Marketplace and in Middletown at AAA of Southern New England.
Fireworks will also be shot off as part of First Night Westerly. In the past, there would be one pyrotechnics display early in the evening and one at midnight. This year, however, there will be just one show, at 9 p.m., a time meant to accommodate families, and that will conclude the evening.
“It’s a simpler event,” said organizer Ray Jones, pastor of the Lighthouse Community Baptist Church. “Basically what we did was we looked at the economy and we looked at our community and we just decided we were going to tailor our event to young families and just make it really cost-effective.”
Last year for example, American Idol contestant Chris Sligh performed.at First Night Westerly. This year, there will be no such headliner and there will be fewer venues for a shorter period of time. The price is $5, down from $13 last year.
But children’s activities will abound. At the library and YMCA, there will be arts and crafts, a mime, face painting and inflatable toys, while teen activities will take place at the Armory. Jazz and big band drummer Bobby Selvidio will perform on High Street. The best place to watch the fireworks will be from the YMCA parking lot, Jones said.
“It’s a nice wholesome time for people with their kids and teens. What our event is tailored around is providing a substance-free New Year’s Eve,” he said.
Buttons for First Night Westerly may be purchased on the day of the event at theYMCA or in advance at NewportFed and Washington Trust. For more information, go to www.firstnightwesterly.com.
Fall River also has downsized its celebration. The city announced that it would not be able to finance another First Night Fall River, but then community activists stepped up and produced a more modest replacement event, which they have dubbed “Back to Main Street: New Year’s Eve in the Neighborhood.”
“It’s an old-fashioned block party,” said Patrice Cloutier, the city’s director of cultural development and tourism, who with businessman Jerry Donovan, led the effort to rescue Fall River’s celebration .
The event, as always, will be free. It will feature horse and carriage rides as well as trolley tours, in addition to a variety of street performers, including jugglers and stilt walkers. A children’s venue, with arts and crafts, will be set up in a vacant storefront at 25 North Main St.
One of the highlights of the event will be a 7:30 p.m. performance by the Chinese Folk Troupe at the Eagle Performing Arts Center, 33 North Main St. There will be a dragon dance, a lion dance, umbrella dancing and drumming, said Cloutier. Seating for the nearly 1 ½-hour performance will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Bonaparte, a Boston magician, will take the stage afterward.
In the past, Fall River would bring in the New Year with the dropping of a ball from the Armory. This year, with the events taking place in just a one-block area, the ball will be dropped at midnight from Government Center.
“It’s really a community event put together with a lot of heart and private donations,” Cloutier said. “It really brings you back to Main Street. It’s about quality and simplicity at the same time.”
For more information, go to www.fallriverma.org.
This is a great story in the projo about art helping out people's lives:
Update 2008: Shakespeare winner has eyes on BU
01:00 AM EST on Sunday, December 28, 2008
Ari Brisbon has said that performing in the theater has saved his life.
The Providence Journal / Andrew Dickerman
PROVIDENCE — For Ari Brisbon, winner of last year's state Shakespeare contest, being a college student has been his most challenging role so far.
Brisbon, a tough street kid who said that the theater saved his life, went to New York City in April to compete in the English Speaking Union's National Shakespeare Competition, the winner of which spent two weeks at the British American Drama Academy in London last summer.
Brisbon didn't win the big prize but he did graduate from Hope High School in June, a nail-biter up until the last minute. After a very promising tryout at Boston University's prestigious School of Theater, Brisbon recognized that he had to bring up his grades before BU would accept him, and so he enrolled at Community of College of Rhode Island in September.
Dorothy Jungels, his mentor and second mom, said Brisbon has struggled to deal with the freedom and responsibility that go along with being a college freshman. But she said that Ari is determined to stay in school and re-apply to Boston University, where assistant professor Mark Cohen called him one of the most talented kids in Brown University's summer acting program.
In the meantime, Brisbon is performing regularly at Everett Dance Theater's Friday Night Live improvisation program and he is preparing another Shakespeare monologue, this time from Hamlet, for the monthly open mike session in January.
— Journal staff writer Linda Borg
There's a great new blog (well, new to me) featuring insightful reviews of shows in and around Providence. It also talks about food.http://thevillaborghese.blogspot.com/
It's authored by John Rogers,
Check it out!