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Thursday, Sep 28, 2023

May brings comedy, music, film to Town Hall Theater

Aerial view of Town Hall Theater, located on Pleasant Street in downtown Middlebury.
Aerial view of Town Hall Theater, located on Pleasant Street in downtown Middlebury.

As the curtain falls on the spring semester, a variety of shows and performers are coming to Town Hall Theater in downtown Middlebury. Highlights include “Small Mouth Sounds,” a comedy play performed by the Middlebury Acting Company, and a concert from The Grift, a band founded by two Middlebury College alumni. 

“Small Mouth Sounds” will kick off performances for the month with four shows between May 4–7. A play that first debuted in the mid-2010s, the Middlebury Acting Company will portray the emotional journeys of six strangers at a silent retreat center in the forests of upstate New York.

The work features somewhat absurd humor as the characters struggle to connect with others and express their complex emotions while maintaining their vows of silence.

Ticket pricing for “Small Mouth Sounds” is based on a new, tiered model that is currently being tested by the Middlebury Acting Company to make theater performances more accessible to a larger audience, Lisa Mitchell, executive director at Town Hall Theater, told The Campus. Student tickets start at $17, and “Generous” tickets go up to $37, with several price options in between. 

The first three performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. with the matinee on Sunday beginning at 2 p.m. 

Town Hall Theater will also host two concerts in May, both connected to The Grift, a band founded by Middlebury alumni in 1999. The first performance will be from Neon Ramblers, a dance band created by members of The Grift, on May 11 at 7 p.m. 

The Neon Ramblers play covers of 80s pop songs with a Bluegrass spin, which they call “80s Hits/Bluegrass Licks.” Three members of the Neon Ramblers (and The Grift) are Middlebury alumni: Clint Bierman ’97, Jeff Vallone ’97.5 and Josh Panda ’01, who recently received national attention on NBC’s “American Song Contest,” Mitchell said. Tickets can be purchased for $19 in advance and $24 at the door. 

The following night, May 12, The Grift will perform at Town Hall Theater. The group mostly performs at weddings and clubs across Champlain Valley, but has also played in 25 different states and four countries. Their original songs are a mix of roots-rock, pop and jam, according to the Town Hall Theater website. Tickets are available for $29 in advance and $34 at the door. 

A combo ticket that covers both the Neon Ramblers and The Grift shows can be purchased for $39, the website states. 

Several film screenings will take place at Town Hall Theater during the month of May, as well. 

On May 9 at 6 p.m., the theater will screen National Theater Live’s broadcast of a live performance of a new version of Arthur Miller’s familiar witch-hunt story “The Crucible,” Mitchell said. Student tickets can be purchased for $10. 

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival (MNFF) will screen the film “Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes” on May 10 at 7 p.m., a documentary about legendary jazz musician Max Roach. According to Mitchell, this will be the final installation in the “Larger than Life” screenings series that MNFF has put on at Town Hall Theater for several months. The series featured films that tell the life stories of figures who made a significant impact on modern culture. Tickets to see “Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes” are $14 in advance and $16 at the door. 

The theater will also kick off its outdoor season on May 27 with a Mal Maiz concert at 6 p.m. at Lincoln Peak Vineyard in New Haven, Vt., Mitchell said. Mal Maiz is a Vermont-based Afro-Latino orchestra featuring Costa Rican multi-instrumentalist Maiz “Brujo” Vargas Sandoval. The group plays a mix of traditional cumbia, montuno, son corrido, puya and Afro-Caribbean sounds. 

The Mal Maiz concert is open to all ages and families are encouraged to attend, as tickets for children under age 12 are free with the purchase of an adult ticket for $16 in advance or $20 at the door, the theater website states. Food and Lincoln Peak’s award-winning wine will also be sold at the concert.

A key feature of Town Hall Theater is the Jackson Art Gallery, which is featuring the exhibit “Skylights” from mid-April through June 10. “Skylights” features Ripton-based artist Winslow Colwell’s lightboxes, kite art, folded lanterns and paper constructions, the website states. The exhibit is free to the public. 

Looking further into the summer, the theater will host several performances of Beethoven’s “Fidelio” throughout the month of June, with an event to meet the Opera Company of Middlebury performers on May 21.

Mitchell said she believes the wide variety of shows and performances hosted by Town Hall Theater provide something for everyone in the greater Middlebury community to enjoy. “We like to say that every town needs a big room, and that essentially means that we are a performing arts venue and producer, but we also host things like the Middlebury Union High School Prom,” she said. “We really look at all turns to partner with the college and the larger community.” 

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