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Bizarre Facts About Vester Lee Flanagan II, Virginia Shooter


By Stephen A. Crockett, Jr.

VIRGINIA — Renowned film, stage and television actor Kevin Bacon will lead the Hartford Stage cast in the world premiere of Rear Window, adapted for the stage by Keith Reddin, and directed by Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak, from October 22-November 15.

Tresnjak said, “I read Cornell Woolrich‘s classic crime story ‘Rear Window’ in high school, and it made a lasting impression. I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to direct a stage version thirty years later, when the issues of surveillance and voyeurism have become even more pertinent. Keith Reddin‘s taut adaptation takes place inside of a sweltering, claustrophobic apartment, very much like the addled brain of the leading character, who will be played by Kevin Bacon. I can’t imagine finer collaborators than Kevin and Keith in exploring the terrifying psychological landscape of this timeless thriller.”

The play is based on the same short story-“Rear Window” by Cornell Woolrich-that inspired the Alfred Hitchcock film, a 1954 Academy Award nominee. It is the classic story of a man confined to his apartment who thinks he may have witnessed a murder in a nearby building. Rear Window is presented by special arrangement with producers Charlie Lyons, Jay Russell and Jeff Steen.

Russell said, “Kevin and I have been friends and collaborators for decades, and we’re thrilled he’s taking on this iconic role.” Lyons concurred, “Kevin’s award winning body of work is unparalleled, a leading man who creates memorable characters.”

 

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Forest Whitaker to Speak at the United Nations


By Ann-Marie Mesquita |

NEW YORK — academy Award winning film star, Forest Whitaker, will appear at the United Nations to call for action on peace, prosperity and political leadership to the world’s parliamentary leaders at a global conference at UN headquarters in New York

Whitaker, founder and CEO of the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative and a UNESCO Special Envoy for peace and reconciliation on Aug. 31, will address the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament as a keynote speaker on the opening day. He will be joined by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and IPU President Saber Chowdhury.

The Conference, a global summit of the heads of national parliaments will focus on the three pressing issues of the day – democracy, peace and development. Its outcomes will feed into the UN Summit on Sustainable Development in September, during which new development goals will be adopted.

With more than 150 Speakers of Parliament from most of the world’s nations due to attend the IPU-organized event, the Conference will focus on challenges to peace and democracy

Forester, an actor and a social activist will also make his Broadway debut next spring in a revival of “Hughie,” a short play by Eugene O’Neill. Whitaker, who won an Oscar for playing Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland,” will play Erie Smith, a hustler who confides in a hotel night clerk.

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New Exhibit at The New Children’s Museum


WEST HARTFORD — Greater Hartford residents are invited to  invent, design, create and build in the New Children’s Museum’s latest exhibit, Tech City, set to open this September in West Hartford.

Tech City features several interactive activity stations that allow visitors to solve real-world problems that engineers face each day,museum officials say.

Visitors can build a structure that will hold up under the force of an earthquake, use a computer program to adjust the flow of traffic and stop a traffic jam, produce their own recordings using a variety of sound effects, and dam a creek to prevent flooding. These activities, among others, encourage an understanding of the natural world and devising solutions based on human needs and issues.

The goal of Tech City is to encourage all young visitors, especially girls and underrepresented groups, to consider engineering careers. Diverse role models, videos and other media, combined with hands on exhibits and programming, encourage problem-solving techniques and thinking.

Tech City opens on Saturday, Sept. 29 and will take the place of It’s a Nano World in the main exhibit hall at The New Children’s Museum. The main exhibit hall will remain closed for renovation and installation from Sept. 4 to 25.

During the exhibit closure, admission to The New Children’s Museum will be buy-one-get-one-free.

The New Children’s Museum is positioned as a premier STEAM education center, integrating science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Home to over 100 live animals, the Museum features hands-on science exhibits, out-of-this-world digital planetarium shows, and programs for young children and families.

The New Children’s Museum and Roaring Brook Nature Center are the region’s premiere destinations for science and nature exploration. The New Children’s Museum and Preschool are located at 950 Trout Brook Drive in West Hartford and Roaring Brook Nature Center is located at 70 Gracey Road in Canton.

More information is available at www.TheChildrensMuseumCT.org.

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Dirt Salon to Present Pop Show: SODALICIOUS


HARTFORD — The Dirt Salon will present the premier of SODALICIOUS! – a  Pop Art Show featuring a vast exhibit of photography by artist Beth Phillips who has photographed numerous works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, both of whom have been major influences on her own art.

“I knew artists Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat from 1983-1988,” says Phillips, who worked with the artists during exciting periods of their careers, but also unfortunately near the end. ”

June Bisantz to perform at the Dirt Salon in Hartford

June Bisantz to perform at the Dirt Salon in Hartford

Andy Warhol passed away February 22, 1987. His Estate called me to photograph thousands of paintings at the new “Factory” at 22 East 33rd. The following year, when Jean Michel Basquiat passed away on August 12, 1988, his father, Gerald Basquiat, called me to photograph hundreds of his paintings and drawings.”

Years later, her own photographic work would hearken back to both Basquiat’s hip hop street life and Warhol’s repetitive collection of Campbell soup cans. On long walks around New York City, Ms. Phillips began noticing crushed soda cans. Ms. Phillips began collecting and photographing crushed soda cans and educating herself about recycling. People began sending her crushed soda cans from around the world. The resulting work draws attention to the need for recycling and recyclable packaging while commenting on the art of the soda industry.

SODALICIOUS! features nearly two hundred photographic prints.

As part of the Pop Art tribute, there will be exhibits by two emerging Connecticut artists: Thomas Radovich and Katie Fogg. Radovich’s work began as an exploration of nostalgia but has expanded into a nearly compulsive need to document every action figure, stuffed animal, and toy in his ever-growing collection.

Katie Fogg’s paintings have been displayed in numerous group exhibitions throughout NYC and Connecticut, and have been acquired by private collectors. Fogg’s KFOGG Studio is located in her hometown of New London and she also keeps a studio in Brooklyn, NY.

Phillips, an artist and photographer, attended the Hartford Art School and the Rhode Island School of Design. She lived in New York City for about 30 years and ran a business photographing fine art.

SODALICIOUS! will also include a musical treasure not to be missed – June Bisantz Jazz.
Tickets are $15 in advance (go to: thedirtsalon.com), $20 at the door.

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Box Office Revives Puritan Play, The Gallows


FILM REVIEW — Scary movies with a puritan theme is a rare commodity at the box office. So it’s a surprise to see a relatively successful showing of this genre in North American theaters, raking in about $21 million in two weeks. In other territories, it garnered $9.4 million and raked in an impressive worldwide total of $30.8 million against a budget of $100,000.

Not bad for a small-budget film with a familiar horror template,based on a real-life tragedy.

Beatrice High School’s most infamous stage production was revived with budding thespian Pfeifer Ross, who plays the high school kid, Charile Grimmel.  The film begins October 1993 at Beatrice High  in Beatrice, Nebraska, with production of  “The Gallows.” Grimille’s parents, delighted about their son’s performance, record the play. In the third act, Charlie’s character is set to be hanged at the gallows.  Then tragedy strikes as the door beneath Charlie’s feet opens and he falls through with a noose around his neck. He died of strangulation in front of his co-stars and the  audience.

Twenty years later, a student at the same school, arrogant football player Ryan Shoos tapes his good-natured friend (and the events of the film) Reese as he is in a production of “The Gallows” playing the same character Charlie played. Reese acts alongside his crush Pfeifer,

The Gallows ended with the death of  Grimmell with leading man, Reese Houser. He plays a former football star who lacks acting talent but tried out for the play. He died in a deadly freak accident at a high school play in Nebraska.

The film is  a mash up of The Blair Witch Project and Brian De Palma’s horror movie, Phantom of the Paradise.

Directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Louflin,  The Gallows serves up a modicum of scare on the scare-o-meter: The scares consist of moving objects and sound effects with lots of bloody and fear-inducing scenes.

However, it’s a story best left in the past.

 

Movie Review by Fran Wilson

 

 

 

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African Diaspora Concert Comes to Hartford


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — World-renowned soul singer Betty Harris and Nzinga’s Daughters will headline the annual Music from the African Diaspora concert at the Learning Corridor in Hartford on July 25.

Concertgoers will enjoy a the soulful sound of Betty Harris and her backup singers, which  she has mentored from the Queen Ann Nzinga Center’s Watoto program. The other performers are Third Tabernacle Choir, Nzinga’s Daughters R&B Band, Changes, Relentless, Crystal Blue Project and world-renowned soul singer Betty Harris.

David Mayes of Plainville, who mentors young vocalists in the Queen Ann Nzinga Center programs, will also perform a solo.

Aaleya Hardy, 18, of Bristol, Sabrina Jones, 12, of East Hartford, and Dillyn Caruso, 18, of Plainville, will perform at the Music from the African Diaspora concert with Harris; and Hardy and Savannah Freitas, 16, of Plainville, will join Harris  on stage at the four-day festival, along with Snell, executive director of the Queen Ann Nzinga Center.

Doors  at 359 Washington St. will open at 6 p.m.  Artwork and photography will be sold at a silent auction to benefit the Queen Ann Nzinga Center’s youth arts and enrichment programs before the concert.

The free concert is geared to all ages, and children are welcome.

For information, contact Queen Ann Nzinga Center at qancinc@gmail.com or 860-229-8389.

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UConn Health to Address Health Disparities


FARMINGTON –  Health officials are gearing up to address health disparities in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science at UConn in partnership with the Connecticut Legislative Black & Puerto Rican Caucus and the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute, will host the National Health Disparities Elimination Summit at UConn Health in Farmington on  June 13.

The summit, “Keeping it Real: Real Solutions, Real Change,” seeks to spearhead an important dialogue and generate actionable solutions to eliminate health disparities.

The summit’s keynote speaker will be Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, CEO and chairman of The Sullivan Alliance, and President Emeritus of the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Sullivan and other distinguished speakers will share their expertise and insight into the causes of health disparities and avenues for change. As a result, a collaborative atmosphere will be created to define pathways to truly eliminate health disparities.

For further information about the National Health Disparities Elimination Summit at UConn, visit the organization’s website (http://cicats.uconn.edu).

 

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UConn’s Kevin Ollie to Speak at Summer Soiree


By Shakira Johnson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Greater Hartford Arts Council will host its first Summer Soirée on June 17 at the historic Philip Cheney Mansion in Manchester with basketball coach Kevin Ollie.

Ollie, UConn’s head basketball coach, will speak at the event to benefit the Arts Council’s 2015 United Arts Campaign and Neighborhood Studios, a summer arts apprenticeship program for teens. The event will begin at 5:30p.m.

The event will also feature live entertainment by Neighborhood Studios apprentices and master teaching artists. Guest speaker, Coach Ollie, will speak about the importance of youth engagement and development through community programs like Neighborhood Studios.

Coach Ollie made national headlines in 2014 when The Huskies defeated the Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA men’s championship.

Arts Council officials said Ollie is known for his commitment to building strong, professional teams that aligns with the mission of Neighborhood Studios.

Tickets are $150 and can be purchased online at LetsGoArts.org/Soiree.

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State Officials: Hurricane Season Begins June 1


Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD —  June 1 will mark the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season.

As a result, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a press release reminds residents to be prepared for severe weather that may impact the state.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 with most of the threat period for the state occurring between mid-August and mid-October.

“As we have experienced, it only takes one hurricane or tropical storm to make landfall to have a devastating impact on our state,” Malloy said.  “Now is the time to prepare.  I urge residents to take three simple preparedness steps: Get a kit, make a plan, and stay informed. These three steps will allow you to become more resilient to any storm or emergency you may face.”
State officials said the potential risks to the community includes storm surge, flooding, road or bridge closures.
 “If a storm is approaching your area, carefully monitor weather reports and follow all of the instructions provided by public safety officials,”Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora B. Schriro said.
Connecticut residents can subscribe to get alert messages by going to www.ct.gov/ctalert to register.

 

 

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In Living Color’s Tommy Davidson to Perform in CT


By Candice Dodd, Staff Writer

An actor, singer and stand-up comedian, Tommy Davidson is a force to be reckon with in the entertainment industry.
Known for his role in the hit series comedy show, In Living Color and the voice of “Oscar Proud” for the Disney cartoon series, The Proud Family, Davidson was made into a household name overnight. The international star will make his way to Manchester for his upcoming show at the Funny Bone Comedy Club on Feb. 5.
This is not Davidson’s first time at the club when he visited a year ago.

“I have a unique experience with the club because I was locked in during a snow storm,” says Davidson with a laugh during a telephone interview with The Hartford Guardian.
With plunging temperatures in the upcoming week, fans will get a hot performance from the star as he does his famous impersonations of Sylvester Stallone and myriad of other actors. “I will do some by request,” he says.
When asked about the start of his career before comedy, Davidson admits that singing was truly his passion.
“Singing was something I always wanted to do,” he says firmly over the phone.
Diving into comedy, Davidson explains that he was at a gentleman’s club with a friend during his early years and was told to go on stage and crack some jokes.
“My friend always thought I was funny,” he says. His guest appearance that night did lead his way to further his career.
As a standup comedian in the late 1980s, he performed in various comedy clubs throughout the Washington Metropolitan region and was recognized by local talent promoters who booked him as the opening act for big stars such as Patti Labelle, Kenny G, and Luther Vandross.
Davidson’s career was taking off big time and it didn’t stop there when he landed a role in the hit show In Living Color that aired in the early 90’s and also won a Primetime Emmy award in 1990.
When asked if the show led him to Hollywood, “Absolutely,” says Davidson. “It was the breakthrough of my life.” He spent his days working alongside other stars such as, Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans performing a variety of humorous skits, music, and dancing.
He is currently working on a biopic called, Deconstructing Sammy, based off the book by author Matt Birkbeck about the life and death of Sammy Davis, Jr. He is also working on television shows, comedy specials and his musical career.
While the talented father is working on “raising his kids” and traveling across the globe, he will win the hearts of many on Thursday night for his fascinating talent and down-to-earth character when he hits the stage on Feb. 5.

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