INTO THE WOODS Opens July 18

July 2, 2019  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

The Tony award winning musical Into the Woods comes to life on the Hyde Park Opera House stage, as the Lamoille County Players continues their sixty-seventh season. Performance dates for this mature, modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales are July 18-21 and 25-28 (Thursday – Saturday, 7:00pm; Sundays, 2:00pm) at the historic Hyde Park Opera House in Hyde Park, Vermont. Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for students, or seniors ages 60 and over. The Lamoille County Players are offering a $10 Matinee Special: any seat for the 2:00pm matinee on July 21 is only $10.


Tickets for all shows are now available online at where people can pick their own seats and get ticket confirmation, all at no additional charge. The box office (802-888-4507) opens an hour before each performance; call at other times for additional information. If you are unsure of your plans, we recommend that you not make reservations, but rather buy your tickets at the door.


Into the Woods is a mature, modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel are all tied together by an original story involving a baker (Dave Gabaree), his wife (Alicia Banach), and the witch (Julianna Banach) who has put a curse on them. During their travels they meet a variety of fairy tale characters, such as: Narrator/Wolf (Candice Bryan-Broe), Cinderella (Jennifer Benjamin), Jack (Katelyn Shaw), Little Red (Holly Ray Sherrer), and Rapunzel (Annalise Durocher), to name just a few.


When asked as to why Director Catie Smith (from Cambridge),  wanted to bring this beautiful musical to the Lamoille County Players, she responded: “A year ago, AJ Banach (Music Director, from Colchester) asked me if I was willing to artistic direct Into the Woods with him as music director. I didn’t even need time to think about it and I agreed immediately. I grew up with Grimm fairy tales, and musicals are my passion. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to put my own spin on this incredible show. We both wanted LCP to be the venue for the show. LCP has a great audience base and so much talent that comes out to audition for shows. I had only heard the music and had never seen the show. When I was working on my vision and my design for the show, I purposely did not watch any version of it. I read the script and wrote down what I saw and the thoughts I had. My vision included choreography. This show traditionally does not have any, so I was happy when Holly Sherrer (Choreographer, from St. Albans) jumped into that vision with me with fantastic choreography. Holly has done an incredible job creating dance that not only fits the show and my vision, but also enhances the songs. It is my hope that our show will be unique while still staying true to the essence of the story and bring out the human experience that is told through these fairy tales.”


The Into the Woods cast features: Alicia Banach (Colchester), Jen Benjamin (Morristown), Anna Sargent (Belvidere), Annalise Durocher (Fairfax), Katelyn Shaw (Morrisville), Dave Gabaree (Elmore), Michael McLure (Johnson), Aidan Hamilton (Stowe), Holly Sherrer (St. Albans), Julie Banach (Burlington), Candice Bryan Broe (Fairfax), Marcy Perrotte (Fairfax), Arianna Belfield (Jericho), Doug McGown (St. Johnsbury), Taylor Cammer (Johnson), Danny Miller (Belvidere), Beth Carrier (Hyde Park), Becky Laird (Burlington), Audrey Teague (Jeffersonville), Becky Millard (Montpelier)


The Into the Woods pit orchestra features: A.J. Banach, Shaun Booher, Lauren Zwonik, Bailey Brown, Kelly Daige, Patricia Fitzgerald, Anthony Barrows, Jody Racht, Madeline Daly, and Makayla Jones.

Godspell Opens Playhouse Theater Season With Full Company of Actor-Musicians

June 13, 2019  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Photo credit: Brian MacDonald
GODSPELL photo: Company of actor/musicians, Godspell at Saint Michael’s Playhouse

Saint Michael’s Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Chuck Tobin today announced the June 18 opening of the 72nd summer theater season of live professional theater at Saint Michael’s Playhouse.


“This production of Godspell has been developed for Saint Michael’s Playhouse by the extraordinary creative team that produced last summer’s hit musical Once, led by Chris Blisset, who also directed last year’s Playhouse production of Once,” said Tobin. Blisset adds, “We are so excited to be presenting this production of Godspell with a company made entirely of actor-musicians. All actors in our production play musical instruments, performing as both the cast and the orchestra and the result is absolutely amazing. You won’t want to miss it.”


Performances begin on Tuesday, June 18. Performances are Tuesday – Saturday evenings June 18 – 22, 25 – 29 (8pm), and Saturday matinees June 22 and 29 (2pm).


Godspells vibrant and internationally acclaimed score by three-time Grammy and Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Children of Eden) includes a parade of beloved songs “Day by Day,” “Prepare Ye,” “Learn Your Lessons Well,” “All for the Best,” “All Good Gifts,” “Turn Back, O Man” and “By My Side.”



Godspell features ten professional actors (who also play all of the musical instruments in the show) Nygel D. Robinson as Jesus, Matt Ferrell as John the Baptist/Judas, with Rachel Lyn Fobbs, Ryan McCurdy, Caitlin Mesiano, Jayne Ng, Amanda Ryan Paige, Katrien Van Riel, Kristopher Saint-Louis, Jacob Shipley, along with Tessa Gordon and Avery Cutroni.



In addition to director Chris Blisset, the creative team includes Ryan McCurdy (music director) Tim Case (scenic design), Annmarie Duggan (lighting design), Jeni Hacker (choreography).



Saint Michael’s Playhouse is an Actors’ Equity Association theater company that produces its productions with theater artists from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theater nationwide. Actors’ Equity Association is the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. Tobin adds “We rehearse our shows right here in our theater and design and build our scenery, costumes and props on location with our crew of approximately 70 professional theater artists.”



Mainstage plays of the 72nd Season are Godspell, The 39 Steps, I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change, and Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Season subscription packages range in price from $127 to $146. Single ticket prices range from $39 to $46. The Playhouse is located at McCarthy Arts Center, on Route 15, in Colchester, Vermont, a ten minute drive from downtown Burlington, Vermont. Subscriptions and single tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 802-654-2281 or visiting the walk-up window in the lobby of McCarthy Arts Center. For a complete show schedule and more information contact the theater box office directly at 802-654-2281 or visit us at Saint Michael’s Playhouse, One Winooski Park, Colchester, Vermont 05439

Shelburne Players’ Spring Comedy

March 11, 2019  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Shelburne Players’ spring comedy/farce “Noises Off” by Michael Frayn will be performed at Shelburne Town Center, 5420 Shelburne Road, on April 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, April 7 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 general, $15 seniors and students, and can be purchased in advance at Shelburne Market, or reserved online at, or by calling 802-343-2602. Open seating.

How Books Brought Two Theatre Majors Back Together Decades After Pursuing Acting

September 24, 2018  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Phoenix Books Owner Mike DeSanto to Host Author Event Featuring Graduate School Alum Gray Basnight for His New Political Thriller “Flight of the Fox” 

When Mike DeSanto, longtime co-owner of Phoenix Books, decided to plan a book festival for 2019, he began looking at other events for ideas.  Imagine his surprise when his research uncovered an old acting friend now writing novels who attended one such writer’s conference last fall.

Mike and Gray studied theatre at GW University in Washington DC in the 1970s.  Mike recalls that the two appeared together, sharing several scenes during a summer performance of the play “Cassiopeia,” by Roma Greth, and that The Washington Post’s theatre critic Richard Coe was not impressed.

“We tried our best, we always tried our best,” recalls Mike fondly.  “Our theatre student days were long and our nights were eventful, probably even a bit wild and wooly.  What fun to come back together around books after so much time.”

They both moved to New York City after graduate school, landed in the same apartment building and pursued their art.  Mike juggled casting calls, small parts and teaching while shuttling between New York and DC where his then wife and children lived.  Family ultimately pulled Mike back to DC and a career in government affairs.  After divorcing and remarrying, Mike and his second wife, Renee Reiner, eventually left the mainstream, moved to Burlington, Vermont and bought the bookstore BookRack & Children’s Pages in 1995, selling it in 2003, only to begin again in 2007 with Phoenix Books.

Gray pursued acting — and waiting tables to pay rent.  A few year later, he moved to broadcast journalism and then spent almost 30 years as a news writer, producer, editor, reporter and announcer at NY radio stations such as WOR, WINS, and ABC Network.  In his spare time, he wrote his first novel, a Civil War story about young slaves on the edge of freedom.  When he was let go from his broadcast job at Bloomberg News during the 2009 financial downturn, he and his wife decided it was time to focus on being a full-time novelist and house-husband.  When the Civil War story wasn’t getting picked up, Gray shifted to a contemporary detective story called The Cop with the Pink Pistol, published in 2012 to starred reviews.  Shadows in the Fire, the Civil War novel, was published next in 2015.  And this year, his political thriller hit the shelves in July.

Mike reached out to NY-based author Gray Basnight through Facebook and the two connected, sharing updates of each other’s lives since their young acting days, and realizing that they both moved from the stage to the page.  The two reunited at Phoenix Books on September 13, where Gray read and signed copies of his new thriller Flight of the Fox at the Burlington location.


The Lamoille County Players Present Their Foliage Musical:  ALL SHOOK UP

September 13, 2018  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

(From Left to Right): Tricia Grube of Essex, Sam Lewis of Johnson, Shannon DeSantis of Waterbury, and Olivia Sheppard of Cambridge share a Coke and a smile.

The Lamoille County Players are proud to announce their upcoming Foliage musical, “All Shook Up.” Performance dates for this Elvis Presley® inspired musical are September 27-30 and October 4-7 (Thursday – Saturday, 7:00pm; Sundays, 2:00pm) at the historic Hyde Park Opera House in Hyde Park, Vermont.  Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for students, or seniors ages 60 and over.  The Lamoille County Players are offering a $10 Matinee Special:  any seat for the 2:00pm matinee on September 30 is only $10.


Tickets for all shows are now available online at where people can pick their own seats and get ticket confirmation, all at no additional charge.  To speak to a real, live person in the box office, call 802-888-4507 to find out the specific hours.  The box office is also open one hour before the start of each performance.  If you are unsure of your plans, we recommend that you not make reservations, but rather buy your tickets at the door.


“All Shook Up” is an American jukebox musical inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley®, and based on William Shakespeare’s 1602 play “Twelfth Night.”  It’s 1955, and into a square little town in a square little Midwest state rides a guitar-playing young man who changes everything and everyone he meets in this hip-swiveling, lip-curling musical fantasy that’ll have you jumpin’ out of your blue suede shoes with such classics as “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Don’t Be Cruel.”   The town is divided along class lines: the haves, and the have-nots. Lorraine and Dean fall controversially in love; she is from “the wrong side of the tracks.”  Four other couples also fall in love… but with whom?


Director Patricia Jacob was drawn to “All Shook Up” by the music, the dancing and the energy of the show.  It is a perfect blend of rock and roll and musical theater styles.  Anna Sargent’s dance numbers are sure to delight and impress audiences of all ages.  If you are a fan of the fifties, you’ll love “All Shook Up.”


The “All Shook Up” cast features Federica Veluntini-Hoffmann (Waitsfield), Sam Lewis (Johnson), Kris Johnson (Essex), Becky Millard (Montpelier), Katelyn Shaw (Morrisville), Marcus Becherer (Cabot), Kim Anetsberger (Hyde Park), Holly Biracree (Essex), Jack Manning (Hyde Park), Richard Shanley (Morrisville),  and 18 other local actors and actresses.




Shelburne Players present “Sleeping Indoors”

September 12, 2018  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

When literary reviewer Paul and his wife Nora invite a homeless man, Dwain, into their home for Christmas dinner, they don’t expect to be so charmed by him, or that his journal will be the incredible literary masterpiece that it is. But can Dwain, whose art thrives in anonymity, be convinced to give up the only life he’s known for such comforts as sleeping indoors?

Find out when you attend Shelburne Players fall production, “Sleeping Indo,ors” by Jim Holt. Show dates are Oct. 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. at Shelburne Town Center, 5420 Shelburne Road. Tickets are $15, matinee tickets are $12, and can be purchased at Shelburne Market or reserved at

Vermont Shakespeare Festival premiere of Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart In a New Version by David Harrower  

September 10, 2018  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment


A country torn apart by public dissent, terrorism, greed, lust and pride. 

Two Queens fight to the death in this newly adapted political thriller. 

400 years later, the intrigue and violence of Mary Stuart feels ripped

from today’s headlines.


Vermont Shakespeare Festival premiere of Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart

In a New Version by David Harrower


Vermont Shakespeare Festival will present the U.S. premiere of a new version of the only classical play starring two women in power, Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart.  It will be presented as a staged reading, the latest in the Salon Series, on Saturday, October 6th at

7 p.m. at the Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro, and on Sunday, October 7th at

3 p.m. in the McCarthy Recital Hall at St. Michael’s College.  This is a rarely seen epic in a fresh and lean adaptation.


Adaptations of Mary Stuart have recently played to great acclaim on Broadway, the West End and the Stratford Festival. See it before the release of the film in December 2018 starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, directed by House of Cards creator Beau Willimon.


Directed by Margo Whitcomb, the presentation will feature Sorsha Anderson as Mary Queen of Scots, Jena Necrason as Queen Elizabeth and and a cast of regionally prominent actors.


About our Salon Series: Vermont Shakespeare Festival’s 2018 Salon Series asks our community to play a role in interpreting and exploring plays inspired by Shakespeare and his times that examine faith, longing, and the relationship between morality and politics. A discussion follows the reading, giving an opportunity for audience and artists to connect on a more intimate and immediate level.


Tickets at Highland Center for the Arts are $15 adult, $12 senior, and $10 student.  Go to

Tickets at McCarthy Recital Hall at Saint Michaels College are free to the public, donations accepted at the door.

For more information go to




PO Box 64733 ● Burlington, VT 05406-4733 ● 877.874.1911 ●

HANDS Reaches Out to Older Adults on Christmas

December 6, 2017  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment, News


In collaboration with Age Well, Burlington School Food Project, Elks Lodge, and Temple Sinai among many others, HANDS (Helping and Nurturing Diverse Seniors) is pleased to offer both a delivered meal and a sitdown dinner again this year on Christmas Day. “The need continues to rise among the seniors we serve,” said HANDS Executive Director Megan Humphrey. “We hope to serve at least 400 meals,” she continued.

The FREE 13th Annual Holiday Dinner will be held on Christmas Day anytime from Noon-3:00 p.m. at the Elks Lodge at 925 North Avenue in Burlington. There will be a special gathering there at 1:00 for seniors. If you need transportation, please call Megan Humphrey at 864-7528 or email

To reserve the free meal delivered to your home (either ham or vegetarian lasagna) in Chittenden County and are 50 or older, please call Age Well at 865-0360 by December 15. After December 15, call Megan Humphrey at 864-7528 or email “Hundreds of volunteers and organizations come together to make this happen and we couldn’t do it without them,” explained Ms. Humphrey.  For more information or to donate, please check

Vermont Songbird Finds Her Voice

October 19, 2017  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Cooie Sings MainBy Phyl Newbeck

Cooie DeFrancesco grew up harmonizing with her parents and three siblings as they drove from their South Burlington home to her grandparents’ home in St. Albans.  Read more

Christmas Comes Early

October 19, 2017  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Lyric Theatre Company presents ‘A Christmas Story The Musical’

By Pat Boera

Just in time for the holiday season, Lyric Theatre Company’s “A Christmas Story The Musical” will debut on the Flynn Center MainStage. In 1940s Indiana, a bespectacled boy named Ralphie has one wish for Christmas—a Red Ryder BB gun. A kooky leg lamp, pink bunny PJs, a cranky department store Santa and a triple-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the obstacles that stand between Ralphie and his dream. Based on the book by Jean Shepard and classic movie, the show captures holiday wonder with funny and heartfelt songs from the Tony-winning songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“Dear Evan Hansen” and “La La Land”), show-stopping dance numbers, delicious wit and a heart of gold. Read more

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