iCode of Wellesley is an after school and summer camp that engages children ages 6 – 18 in a dynamic STEAM learning experience using AGILE. Sign up here for a free event at the Wellesley Free Library.
Every year around this time it feels hard to believe that spring is coming. Right now in Wellesley snow is still on the ground, the trees are bare, and the temperatures are not expected to creep even as high as 60 degrees anytime soon. Keeping the faith is a challenge.
The Boston Flower & Garden Show has had no such crisis of faith since 1834, when the event started out in Faneuil Hall more as a country fair than what is today a showcase for backyard suburban paradises. At the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston through March 17, the show’s theme this year is “The Beauty of Balance.” Wellesley’s own Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Interim Director and President Suzanne Maas serves as Show Chair, and Hannah Traggis, Senior Horticulturalist at MassHort is Vice Chair of the flower show.
Mass Hort also manages all the amateur competitions at the show, which include floral design, amateur horticulture competitions including plant rooms, bay windows, individual house plants/horticulture exhibits, and junior horticulture, Ikebana display, miniature gardens, and photography.
Here are a few pics from my wander through spring bottled up in a vast convention center and put on display for the masses, hungry for a glimpse of what is to come.
You may remember last week that Mr. and Mrs. Swellesley had hit a patch of domestic discordancy. One half of the team that brings you “more than you really want to know about Wellesley, Massachusetts” (and now more that you really want to know about us as a couple) had mistakenly dropped off 3 Wellesley Free Library books at the Recycling and Disposal Facility books area (see “Mr Swellesley leaves library books at Wellesley RDF; Mrs. Swellesley mad as all get-out”). I pleaded to the Swellesley readership to help us return books to the library and harmony to the marriage.
The call was answered, but first came the other call. The call I feared. I received an email from no less an august personage than Wellesley Free Library Director, Jamie Jurgensen. Uh oh, I’m in for it now, I thought. I wonder if there’s a ceremony for stripping a patron of library privileges? Does Madam Director wish to summons me to my excommunication? I hope she at least turns the Cutting of the Card spectacle into a fundraiser and sells tickets.
But the email was kind and understanding. “Your post made me laugh and cry at the same time,” Jurgensen wrote. “I do hope some astute and kind reader finds and returns the books. We’ll keep a look out on our end.”
Chipper and non-threatening enough, but at the bottom of the email lurked a warning: “When responding, please be advised that the Town of Wellesley has determined that email could be considered a public document.”
Yikes. If I didn’t find a way to make this right, and soon, it was clear that some other kind of shoe could yet drop. If that shoe fell on my head, I might well deserve it. You already know TMI, so I may as well go all in. You see, I am a woman with a past when it comes to library books. Returning them overdue is the least of it. Confession time: I’ve dropped books in puddles. I’ve left books in the rain. I’ve travelled from Point A, gotten off at Point B, but waved the books off to explore Point C all alone. My books have spent lovely months in the Connecticut countryside, watching from the window seat as deer move through the woods, waiting for my return. I’ve had books, swear to God, simply disappear into the ether.
I rectify the problem in the usual way. I throw money at it. Then I vow to become an upstanding library patron with a stainless record, and my vow sticks. Until next time.
Next time is here. I’ve lost three lost books all at once. That’s a record even for me. It’s fun to blame Mr. Swellesley and all, but I wouldn’t want to stand before a judge on this one. I’d probably get a tiresome lecture about how since the books were out on MY card they were MY responsibility, and they shouldn’t have been mixed up in the car with a load of recycling and a Saturday chores-addled husband.
I had started to abandon hope of ever finding the lost books, but then a Facebook message arrived from sharp-eyed reader Lisa Siegel. “Found your copy of Bowlaway. Should I return to library?” she asked.
“Yes, please return to library! Oh, thank you thank you, thank you! Was it at the RDF? I went yesterday but couldn’t find it…I knew it could still be there, though,” I wrote back.
“Yes, was at RDF,” she confirmed.
Yes! One down, two to go.
Shortly after, the next good-news email came in, this one about On the Same Page by N.D. Gallund. Swellesley reader Amy Haley found it at the RDF while collecting books for Women’s Lunch Place in Boston. “I went through the other books I collected,” she wrote, “but had no luck finding the other two. I’ll drop it off at the library tomorrow.”
Hooray! One more to go: Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. Alas, Sapiens has proven to be as elusive as Big Foot, as unlikely to reappear as Cro-Magnon man. Due on March 19, the non-fiction best-seller is a high-demand item with a public that awaits. I’ll hold out until the due date, but if it doesn’t boomerang back, I’ll pay up. Online. That way I won’t have to face the Circulation Desk librarians. I’m all confident smiles to them when I return a pile of books, but there’s always a hang-dog skulk to my posture when I check out books, knowing in my heart what might happen.
Whether or not the last book makes it back, I’m counting myself lucky. I’ve got great Swellesley readers looking out for me and a library that takes me back every time I perform checkbook penance. This time really is going to be the absolutely last time I get myself in this kind of fix.
Thank you, everyone. My spirit has been renewed.
Comic hypnotist Frank Santos, Jr. will come to Wellesley High School’s Katherine L. Babson Auditorium on Friday, March 15, 7pm, as a fundraising event for the WHS Class of 2020.
Come and be amazed when you, your friends or strangers across the room become stars of the show, as Santos makes audience members believe that they are singers, dancers, and more. In Santos’ energetic and unique performance, the audience becomes the main attraction.
Tickets are $10 and will be sold at the door.
WHS Class of 2020 President Ryan Silverstein says, “We are raising money to help reduce the cost of Junior Boat Cruise as well as Prom and Senior Banquet. We are also raising money to make a monetary donation to a charity.”
To enter SpeakEasy Stage at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston’s South End for the venue’s Spring musical is to enter an Irish pub in a successful search for good craic. The word is pronounced “crack”, which is one reason you don’t hear anyone in the States ask, “where’s the craic”, as the Irish do when they’re looking for an entertaining way to pass the time. But if you can give yourself over to the Gaelic way of understanding the word, well you’ll be all right, then at Once, the story of Guy and Girl who meet on the streets of Dublin and make beautiful music together.
As the audience searches for their seats, a merry ensemble cast made up of ten triple-threat talents plays jaunty tunes, dances jigs, and lends a general air of convivial fun to the scene. All that and good acting, too, in this Tony Award-wining play based on the motion picture, with music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. Playing through April 8 at the theater located at 527 Tremont Street, Once is the romantic and wistful love story of a lonely and recently heartbroken Guy. He’s artistically blocked in his music and about to set down his guitar forever, when he meets Girl on the streets of Dublin. She’s an immigrant, a Czechoslovakian powerhouse who didn’t come all the way to Ireland to let people she first finds, and then believes in, quit.
Guy, played with a melancholy air by Nile Scott Hawver, is a lost soul, questioning every decision he’s ever made in his life. Why bother to play music? Why does he still live with his father over the vacuum repair shop? (Yes, the obvious jokes about sucking are made.) What is he doing in this world? This is quarter-life crisis stuff, and could grow quickly tiresome if Hawver didn’t let the audience see in fits and starts that somewhere under all that hang-dog is someone who once had dreams. It’s two steps forward and one step back for Guy, but Hawver keeps us pulling for him rather than letting us become exasperated by Guy’s occasional backslide into a place of stuck.
Girl, an accomplished pianist without a piano of her own, enters Guy’s life as a whirlwind of hope and determination. “Where do you get your energy?” Guy asks. “I’m a single mother,” Girl says. “We are a special breed.” Mackenzie Lesser-Roy delivers this and many lines with perkiness, but that’s not all that Lesser-Roy brings to the role. Underneath, she shows us a Girl with a strong resolve that is alternately ascribed to her upbringing (“I am always serious. I am Czech”) and her obligation complications, revealed to the audience hint-by-hint. In just five days, Girl becomes Guy’s muse, a positive force who changes his life for the better. Ultimately, though, she is a muse and a force who cannot make herself fully available to him.
And that’s love according to piano shop owner Billy, played with fire and emotion by Billy Butler who is sometimes a marshmallow, sometimes long-suffering, and sometimes fighting-Irish bombastic. Marshmallow Billy lets Girl play piano in his shop, just so that he can occupy the same space as her. Resigned Billy tells Guy, “You’re a love thief. I respect you for that.” Selfish Billy kicks the whole band out of his shop when they are rehearsing for the big recording studio date. He even calls the banker (played by Jeff Song as a skeptic with a heart of gold and an artist’s soul) financing the venture a wanker. Yep, banker the wanker. It’s got a certain ring to it.
It all adds up to a musical love story with a thread of melancholy that runs throughout. It’s the classic scenario: Guy meets Girl. Guy is transformed by Girl. Guy loses girl, never having gotten her in the first place. Then Guy crosses the pond, because like they say in that other little play, Hamilton, “In New York you can be a new man.”
Similar to SpeakEasy Stage’s last Spring’s musical, Bridges Over Madison County, love asserts itself as the most powerful force in the world, but due to life circumstances the characters are able to harness only part of that power. What’s that old story about Einstein saying we productively use only 10% of our brain? If that’s true, is it also possible that we properly channel only 10% of the love inside us? If so, as far as I can tell the other 90% sort of runs wild, or disappears into the ether, or explodes in seemingly unrelated ways, which is largely how love goes in this play.
Once is directed by SpeakEasy General Manager Paul Melone who keeps the up and down tempo of the play largely up, in no small part due to the band of musicians who appear onstage and make merry, even when Guy is clearly struggling. Although the play is all about Guy and Girl, the entire cast is very much in evidence throughout, either playing music or acting in a scene. No surprise that the best part of this musical is the songs, especially “Falling Slowly,” the film version of which won an Academy Award in 2007 for Best Original song. The play also won eight Tony awards including Best Musical in 2012. At SpeakEasy, the company was particularly on its game during Act 2’s beautiful “Gold.”
Reza, the game flatmate every Girl needs for a BFF, who “seduces men for fun” (played with a surprisingly not incongruous Czech joie de vivre by Marta Rymer); Andrej, (with unfettered emotion by Jacob Brandt), who’s come to Ireland to play big; and Da (by Billy Meleady, with solid practicality and great love for Guy, his son) were stand-out supporting actors, easy to love especially when they’re folk dancing in the kitchen.
The sets brought you into well-worn and comfortable rooms, places where songs are sung, life has its ups and downs, and people support each other through disappointment and cheer each other when fortunes rise. Music is always in evidence. When you’re not listening to songs, you’re noticing the instruments in every corner, the trumpets hanging on the wall, the speakers in the back of the room. The straight-back chairs, often moved around, convey a sense of impermanence. No one is sitting around in one place for too long in this play, so there’s no need for upholstered comfort. All the characters, in one way or another, are in a period of change.
Also, the reverse subtitles were a creative touch. At times we’re given to understand that the Czech characters are speaking in their native language. What we hear is English. What we see is the Czech language projected onto the wall behind them.
Lots of f-bombs in the play, so if you’re sensitive to language, or you’d rather not expose your younger kids, you’ve been warned. Theater-loving high school students would enjoy Once. But the audience who might most appreciate it are the sorts looking for a different way to get their Irish on as St. Patrick’s Day approaches. Taking in Once is a great alternative to celebrating the saint who drove the snakes out of Ireland, without overindulging with green beer or Shamrock Shakes, or playing along with that silly Unicorn song. Been there, done that. If you want a crowd-pleasing musical that gives audiences a lovely theater experience, then go to SpeakEasy Stage instead, do that.
With: Jacob Brandt* (Andrej); Billy Butler (Billy); Clara Cochran (Ivonka); Chris Coffey (Svec); Nile Scott Hawver* (Guy); Mackenzie Lesser-Roy* (Girl); Billy Meleady* (Da); Robert X. Newman (Emcee); Marta Rymer (Reza); Stephen Shore* (Eamon); Jeff Song* (Bank Manager); Kathy St. George* (Baruska); Ellie van Amerongen* (Ex-girlfriend).
Directed by Paul Melone; Music Direction by Steven Ladd Jones; Choreography by Ilyse Robbins; Scenic Design by Eric Levenson**; Costume Design by Rachel Padula-Shufelt; Lighting Design by Karen Perlow**; Sound Design by Andrew Duncan Will; Production Stage Manager, L. Arkansas Light*; Assistant Stage Manager, Lauren Burke*
* Member of Actors’ Equity Associaton
** Member of United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829
UPDATE: SpeakEasy Stage Company has added seven more performances of its acclaimed production of the Tony Award-winning musical Once. The show will now play through Sunday, April 7, 2019. The entire original cast will remain for the additional week. Tickets for the extended run go on sale Friday, March 8, at noon.
SpeakEasy Stage, 527 Tremont St., Boston, 617-933-8600
The theater is handicapped accessible.