Divine Melody Meets Ethereal Drama in Milton’s City of Angels
Each year, Milton’s performing arts and music departments collaborate on a challenge that becomes the ultimate crowd pleaser: a full-scale musical, created from start to finish in just two months. This year’s production, City of Angels, will not disappoint.
“The play includes a great script and a fun and challenging score,” says director and performing arts faculty member Kelli Edwards. “Everything is a double entendre—all very clever and funny.”
Premiering on Broadway in 1989, the play is set in Hollywood in the 1940s. The production unfolds as two stories happening simultaneously: a comedy revolving around the filmmaking industry of the time, centered on the screenwriter Stine; and the fictional film world of Stine’s creation—a detective drama and murder mystery.
The show’s cast comprises about 30 students—representatives from all four classes. Staging a musical “takes a village,” as Kelli puts it. Nearly every member of the performing arts and music faculty has a role in creating the magic, from music to choreography, film elements, lights and costumes.
The Spray Can and the Brush in Nesto Gallery
The Spray Can and the Brush, an exhibition of new paintings by Percy Fortini-Wright, will be on view in Milton’s Nesto Gallery from May 3 through May 31. Through a wide array of schemes within representational painting and graffiti vernacular, Fortini-Wright interprets, depicts and deciphers the world around and within. This recent work—created from memory and direct observation, as well as sampling imagery—embodies chaos and clarity while not limiting how images operate, and blurs the lines between practices, styles and subjects.
Percy Fortini-Wright holds both BFA and MFA degrees from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, where he now teaches as an adjunct. Mr. Fortini-Wright is described as a major force in the re-emergence of graffiti as an art form, particularly in the greater-Boston area.
The Nesto Gallery is located on the lower level of the Art and Media Center. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
View photos of the exhibit.
Lovers' Quarrels Play Out in Wigg Hall
This weekend’s 1212 play, Lovers’ Quarrels, was Moliere’s first successful comedy, originally published in 1656. Fourteen Milton actors will perform the English translation by Richard Wilbur. The script is challenging: The entire play is written in rhyming couplets. Performing arts department chair and director, Peter Parisi, says that the play is a light and fun story, though with a complicated plot: A girl disguises her gender to obtain an inheritance, all while loving the boy who is due the inheritance and is courting her sister.
Sweet Music This Spring Weekend
The tradition of Milton’s 1212 Plays began over 30 years ago in room 1212 of Warren Hall. The performances evolved from play readings to fully-staged productions under the direction of late faculty member Nina Seidenman. When Warren Hall was renovated, and room 1212 became an English classroom, the productions relocated to Wigg Hall. The space may have changed, but the philosophy is the same: intimate productions with small casts, minimal technical demands, and challenging material for both actors and audience.
Performances of Lovers’ Quarrels begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, May 2 and 3; and 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 4.
Two concerts entertained audiences this past weekend in the Kellner Performing Arts Center. On Friday, April 26, the sounds of Gilbert and Sullivan filled King Theatre as the Glee Club sang sections of Pirates of Penzance. The chamber singers took the stage, joined by the Wellesley Choral Society (WCS), to perform three movements of Ludwig Beethoven’s Mass in C Major. Ted Whalen of the music department is music director of WCS, and the Milton singers will join them in a full performance of Beethoven’s Mass on June 5 in Wellesley.
Italian Meditations in Nesto Gallery
On Sunday, April 28, the second concert event opened with three separate chamber music performances—a percussion ensemble, a flute quartet, and a cello quartet. The chamber orchestra performed a baroque Vivaldi flute concerto with Natasha Zuzarte (I) as the featured flute soloist. The second piece was Georg Phillipp Telemann’s Viola Concerto in G Major featuring Brittany Lee (I) on viola. Vocalist Alé Gianino (I) joined the chamber orchestra to sing Franz Shubert’s Gretchen am Spinnrade (Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel). The full orchestra whirled the audience through Europe as they performed a Czech march, a Viennese Polka, an Elizabethan dance, and then closed with a selection of music from Les Misérables.
Italian Meditations: Fragments of History—an exhibition of paintings, drawings and prints by Boston-based realist painter Anthony Apesos—opened in the Nesto Gallery on April 5.
Hip-Hop, Ballet, Jazz and Modern
The exhibit features nine series of works developed over several decades, derived from different moments of Italian history. Each series reflects both the historical past and moments of the artist’s life. Taken together, these paintings are a metaphor for memory and forgetting. Mr. Apesos says that he has “been repeatedly drawn to Italy, especially to Rome, because it is both the central locus where the argon of the West occurred and the indelible palimpsest of this struggle.”
View photos of the exhibit.
Anthony Apesos is a professor of fine arts at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. He studied at Vassar College, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Milton Avery Graduate School of Fine Arts at Bard College. Mr. Apesos was chair of the fine arts department at the Art Institute and founding director of the school’s MFA program in visual arts. He is the author of Anatomy For Artists: A New Approach to Discovering, Learning and Remembering the Body.
The exhibit will run through April 26 in the Gallery, located on the lower level of the Art and Media Center. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Excitement has been building for weeks, and not just among the dancers. The Winter Dance Concert may be the biggest draw on campus all year. Through 15 dances created specifically for the program, 70 student dancers bring their energy and creativity to the stage for this year’s concert. Student choreographers begin work mid-autumn: preparing dance pieces, submitting proposals to director and dance teacher Kelli Edwards, auditioning and choosing dancers.
Grammy Award-winner Eric Owens Performs at Milton
This year’s concert includes a mix of modern dance, hip-hop, ballet and jazz. The show will even feature a toy shop come to life. The first time the dancers perform their pieces on stage—during “tech week” leading up to the show—is a new experience. Student choreographer Grace Kernohan ’13 explains, “You don’t have the mirror you’re used to, the stage is shaped differently from the studio floor, and you now have an audience. That moment of surprise eventually comes, when the dance has been performed, and you say, ‘Wow, I really did all that.’”
The Dance Concert opens in King Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, and Friday, March 8. Curtains go up at 7 p.m. for the performance on Saturday, March 9.
For 83 years, the annual Gratwick Concert has brought some of the world’s most renowned classical musicians to Milton’s campus. This week, the tradition continued as the Gratwick series presented Grammy Award-winning bass-baritone Eric Owens.
Milton Students Take You East of Easton
Joined by pianist Warren Jones, Owens performed on Sunday evening in Straus Library, singing music of Wolf, Schumann, Schubert, Debussy, Ravel and Wagner. On Monday, he led a master class with seniors, Alé Gianino and Sage Warner, followed by a discussion with a group of Milton's chamber singers.
According to the IMG Artists Web site, "Eric Owens has carved a unique place in the contemporary opera world as both an esteemed interpreter of classic works and a champion of new music. Equally at home in concert, recital and opera performances, Owens continues to bring his powerful poise, expansive voice and instinctive acting faculties to stages around the world."
The Gratwick Concert foundation was established by Dr. Mitchell Gratwick, a master at the Academy, in memory of his wife, Katharine Perkins Gratwick, who was a graduate of the Girls’ School, Class of 1924.
In a series of one-acts, seven student actors take their audience down Route I-95 South to the southeastern suburbs of Boston, specifically the old industrial town of Taunton. Rick Dionne (III) and Oona Newman (I) are the student directors of this winter’s 1212 play, East of Easton, by local playwright William Donnelly.
“The stories are about everyday life and the way different people deal with realistic situations,” says Rick. “Some of the stories are very funny with lots of comedic elements, and other stories are more serious and low key. There are some overlapping characters and common settings that tie the pieces together.”
Watch a scene from the play.
New Works by Brynn Dizack Featured in Nesto
canis major, an exhibition of new installations and photographs by Brynn Dizack, is on view in Milton’s Nesto Gallery from February 15 through March 15. Ms. Dizack is best known for her exploration of how the human experience can still be considered authentic in an age of sensational media and technology.
Winter Play Brings Intrigue to the Stage
canis major includes both static and interactive installations that address issues of impermanence, duality, repetition, obsession, classification and categorization, and the constant flux of the human experience. The exhibit features Dizack's newest work, madeline, which consists of over 1,000 cement bottles. Also on display is her recently completed passage, a poem hand-cut from a piece of mylar that extends from floor to ceiling.
Ms. Dizack has visited Milton intermittently over the past month, working on her pieces in the storage room next to the Nesto Gallery. Milton’s 3-D Studio Art classes have witnessed Dizack at work and the process involved in the installation of this exhibit.
The Nesto Gallery is located on the lower level of the Art and Media Center. Admission is free and open to the public.
A student ensemble cast unspooled a classic who dunnit murder mystery in this year’s winter play, Musical Comedy Murders of 1940. Faculty director Dar Anastas says the 90-minute production offered some “light-hearted fun during these cold February nights.”
The complicated plot was filled with twists and turns, and the audience enjoyed a few surprises. Faculty member Shane Fuller designed the elaborate set and Swap-It items were well represented on the stage, from bookcase items to the sofa and desk. Oddly, the script only provided lyrics, not music, so faculty member Ted Whalen wrote original piano music to accompany the actors.
Speech Competitions Are a Team Effort
Watch the performance of Musical Comedy Murders of 1940.
Harry Wood (I) is performing at the top of his game in speech tournaments this year, but he is more interested in focusing the spotlight on the Speech Team as a whole. This winter, the team traveled to George Mason University for a nationally renowned tournament.
“We had a fantastic tournament as a team,” says Harry, who is one of the team captains. “We placed ninth out of 104 teams, which was huge. Almost everyone on the team ‘broke,’ meaning they moved on to the next round of their category.”
Harry came in first place in both the Humorous Interpretation event and the Original Oratory event. He finished second in Prose and was a semifinalist in Dramatic Interpretation. This achievement earned him one of five individual competitor awards, which recognize strong performances in four or more events.
Artist Linc Cornell Featured in Nesto Gallery
Antarctica, a solo exhibit of original digital prints and sculpture by Boston artist Linc Cornell, opened in the Nesto Gallery on Friday, January 11. Organized jointly by Nesto Gallery Director Ian Torney and the artist, the exhibition shares photographs inspired by Mr. Cornell’s trip to the Antarctic, as well as a subsequent series of glass sculptures he created in reaction to that experience.
"Working intuitively, I stay open to discoveries and mistakes, which I blend into my process," says Mr. Cornell. "Exploring themes of myth, time, mortality, change, decay, memory, dreams and the spiritual, sacred life, I strive to create poetic sculptural interventions where the creative experience becomes cathartic."
Linc Cornell earned his B.S. in photojournalism from the S. I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University and his M.F.A. from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. For 25 years, he worked as an advertising and corporate photographer in the Boston area and is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for his photographic work.
Antarctica is featured in the Nesto Gallery—located on the lower level of the Art and Media Center—through February 8. Admission is free and open to the public.
“All for one, one for all” in the Class IV Play
King Theatre stage became 17th-century France this weekend, complete with clashing swords. The performing arts department, and Milton’s newest students, presented The Three Musketeers as this year’s Class IV Play. The Class IV Play is a long-standing tradition at Milton and an all-inclusive and beloved class project. Faculty member Robert St. Laurence directed this year’s production based on an adaption of the novel by Alexandre Dumas about the adventures of a young man who travels to Paris to join a group of the royal military known as the Musketeer of the Guard.
Nesto Gallery Features Artist Ekua Holmes
Thirty-seven Class IV students were involved in this year’s cast, and those not performing on stage contributed behind the scenes, acting as ushers, designing posters, and joining the audience in support of their classmates.
Colored Memory - Primary Narratives, an exhibit of original paintings by Boston artist Ekua Holmes, opened on Friday, November 2, in the Nesto Gallery. Part of an ongoing series of collages by Ms. Holmes, her works in this exhibit revisit the joys and challenges of childhood, as re-imagined through adult eyes. The collages examine some of the foundational relationships, games and rules we learn at an early age and apply throughout our lives.
Shakespeare and Steampunk? Check it out.
“In my collages, memory plays a central part,” says Ms. Holmes. “In childhood, a loving and supportive community of men and women nurtured me. In everything I create I hear them saying, ‘Remember Me,’ and through my work I honor their legacies by bringing them forward to life with torn and cut shapes of found colors and textures. With these scraps and remnants, assembled like a down-home quilt, I rebuild my world, putting in what speaks to my personal and cultural narrative.”
Ekua Holmes holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art, and has received several awards—for her art and for recognition of her community outreach and curatorial efforts championing the Black Art traditions of Boston and the greater-Boston area.
Colored Memory – Primary Narratives will run through December 14. The Nesto Gallery is located in the lower level of the Art and Media Center. For more information, visit the Gallery online.
Shakespeare’s coastal setting of Illyria gets an unexpected treatment on the King Theatre stage during this fall’s production of Twelfth Night. The 400-year-old comedy will combine the revelry of Mardi Gras with the anachronistic technologies of the steampunk subculture. Stage manager Claire Robertson (I) says faculty director Shane Fuller wanted to include a sense of timelessness, and the aesthetics of steampunk (a subgenre of science fiction where steam is the main power source) fit the bill. Some of the 13 student-actors will play live music during the performance, adding another unique twist.
Milton “Speechies” Excel at Yale Tournament
“I’m so impressed with the cast,” says Claire, a veteran stage manager with eight Milton productions under her belt. “They quickly memorized all their lines and are giving their full effort to make this a great play. And they are a lot of fun—everyone gets along so well.”
Twelfth Night opens in King Theatre on Thursday, November 1, and Friday, November 2, at 7:30 p.m., and on Saturday, November 3 at 7 p.m.
The Speech Team kicked off the school year with a stellar showing at the Yale University Invitational. Evan Garnick (I), Eva Grant (II), Liane Thornhill (I) and Harry Wood (I) traveled with team coaches Patrice Jean-Baptiste and LaJaun Foust (both of the performing arts department) to the weekend-long event, logging many rounds of competition in one of the longest tournaments of the year.
Liane took first place in Oral Interpretation (Prose and Poetry reading). Her prose piece was drawn from the book Hold Still by Nina LaCour and addressed the reverberating effects of suicide. Her poetry performance combined the work of three poets and focused on child labor in the mines of the eastern Congo, the source of the mineral coltan used in the production of cell phones and other electronic products.
“The poetry piece was meant to get people thinking about how the cell phones we use every day have a complicated history,” says Liane. “I always choose poetry based on a topic I’m passionate about and that I think is necessary for people to learn about and consider.”
"Temporary Extensions": Art by Ani Avanian
The Nesto Gallery welcomes artist Ani Avanian as the first exhibition of the school year. Originally from Armenia, the Boston-based artist explores technology and the human form in a variety of mediums.
“As we get further lured by the seductive designs of consumer technology, I'm fascinated to observe how the field of ergonomics and interaction design will evolve to successfully continue integrating technology into our bodies,” says Ms. Avanian. “Will the boundaries between the organic and manufactured one day be indistinguishable?”
An opening reception for Temporary Extensions is scheduled on Friday, September 21, from 6:00–8 p.m. in the lower level of the Art and Media Center. The exhibit is open weekdays, 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m., until October 26. Ms. Avanian will give a talk to students on Wednesday, October 23 in Greeley Auditorium.