June 25, 2015

Poets’ Cabaret II: A Show in Verse, June 20

Gloucester is my 2nd favorite place on the Earth, as many of you know, & the Gloucester Writers Center is just one many reasons to come back here, again (& again). The Center, now in its 5th year, held a fund-raiser/celebration this night at the Maritime Center on Harbor Loop. The first Poets’ Cabaret was held 2 years ago to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gloucester’s (& the World’s) poet, Vincent Ferrini.

Tonight's production was written by M. Lynda Robinson & Ann McArdle, directed by M. Linda Robinson & produced by Henry Ferrini & Michael McNamara. It was a relaxed, informal performance, “a theater of nothing but poetry” as Henry described it, made all the more charming by occasional missed cues, & sound glitches, with the energy & good-humor of the performers carrying the night along.

"Vincent Ferrini," "Charles Olson," & "T.S. Eliot"
Co-Directors of the Gloucester Writers Center Annie Thomas & Henry Ferrini did the introductions, with a shared script. The texts of The Show in Verse were primarily from the poetry of Vincent Ferrini, Charles Olson, T.S. Eliot & Gerrit Lansing. The dead (Ferrini, Olson & Eliot) were summoned in white with lighted garlands by the Muse (Sally Nutt). Mark St. Pierre played a somewhat diminutive, but extremely bushy-browed Charles Olson, George Sibley played T.S. Eliot (not quite stuffy enough to my view of Eliot), but Jo-Ann Castano’s accent & nutty playfulness was dead-on on as Vincent. Gordon Baird with a teen-age back-up chorus performed “The Way of the Breath,” & there was also an engaging performance of the poem “Smoke” by Elizabeth McKim.

"Kiddie Cats"
But I thought the show was stolen by the “Kiddie Cats,” a bevy of Gloucester young people, including Abby Cook, Sam Cook, Treely Dowd, Rebecca Dowd, Lila Olson, April Smith, Seamus Swift & Rumi Thomas who gave a well-timed & charming group performance of Eliot’s “The Naming of Cats.”

The cabaret acts included songs by Charlee Bianchini (“Origins”), Brian King doing Gerrit Lansing’s “The Castle of the Flowering Birds,” Karen Ristuben’s beautiful rendering of Eliot's “Marina,” & Michael McNamara reading excerpts from Vincent Ferrini’s autobiography Hermit in the Clouds.

Ubiquitous throughout the night were the dancers, Kate Tarlow Morgan, Sarah Slifer & Carl Thomsen who individually shadowed each of the dead poets, but came into their own during the cabaret finale, Willie Alexander’s iconic performance of “Life is the Poem” (quoting Vincent, of course), with a tight improv on the small stage, then enticing (some) members of the audience to dance & chant on stage.

Photo by Wendy Dwyer
I, of course, had to join them — life is the poem, life is the poem…

The night went on with dancing on the pier to music from DJs & “tunesmiths” — & the programming goes on at the Gloucester Writers Center all year long, check their website.

(For more pictures from the Poets Cabaret visit my Flickr site.)

No comments: