One of the 17,000 people each year who volunteers with Appalachia Service Project, working toward a goal of providing “warmer, safer, and drier” homes for families in Central Appalachia (generally including counties in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina), is Katie Temple, a graduate of Newtown High School and a 2013 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Newtown High School junior Ashley Gong has been selected to be one of this year’s five National Student Poetry Ambassadors. Ashley has known about her achievement since July, but had to keep it a secret until it was announced. That announcement came during a visit to Washington, D.C., September 17-20, during which First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a reading, which was the first event the five National Student Poetry Ambassadors took part in, kicking off their year as ambassadors. The National Student Poets Program is the nation’s highest honor for teen poets presenting original work. The five young poets were appointed by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers to showcase the essential role of writing and the arts in academic and personal success.
Through its Community Impact Grants Program, The Home Depot Foundation has awarded $5,000 to Newtown VFW Post 308. The donation will be used to rebuild the front entrance and upgrade part of the existing handicapped entry to the building on Freedom Defenders Way. Walter Dolan, the local post’s junior vice commander, is the project chairman. Mike Porco, Sr, of Newtown has agreed to donate his time to serve as the project’s general contractor. The project will also include the replacement of stairs including supports, or stringers, leading to the post’s main entrance; additional handrails for the handicapped ramp; and the replacement of the “entire top landing, but not the supports themselves.
Nobody can deny, after sampling 10 seconds of her soul-lifting musical output, that Esperanza Spalding has earned every plaudit her global devotees have dealt — and all the critical acclaim she has received — because of the beauty, talent and gifts that come from deep inside this former childhood musical prodigy. Local fans already aware of Spalding’s talent and sublime showmanship can visit with her in person, while newcomers can revel in the experience of catching her lightning in a bottle performance when she opens a brief early fall tour at The Ridgefield Playhouse October 1.
Stella Gordon vehemently believes that a house divided cannot stand. She ferociously protects her domain while her recalcitrant family dukes it out to get what they think they have coming to them. Thus is the premise of Horton Foote’s "Dividing the Estate," which is receiving a wonderful presentation by The Sherman Players.
TheatreWorks New Milford is currently offering the edgy, puppet populated and Tony Award winning musical "Avenue Q," with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marks, book by Jeff Whitty, and based on the original concept by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marks. These are adult-only puppets with a message for the child in all of us. Set entirely on an urban street, congested with tenements and inner city debris, the story is rife with humanity, bawdy humor and sweet sentiment. Characters in the form of Sesame Street-like puppets as well as real people seek meaning and connection. The initial introduction to the cast of characters is through a song in which they all compete to be living a life that is worse than any one else’s, a pity party of sorts.
The Alt, a stunning new trio currently touring the United States with their self-titled album, combines the talents of three Irish traditional musicians who are all at the top of their game: John Doyle, formerly of Solas, on guitar, mandola, Irish bouzouki, and vocals; Nuala Kennedy, a noted solo artist and a member of the group Orialla, on flute, whistles, and vocals; and Eamon O’Leary, of the New York duo The Murphy Beds, on bouzouki, guitar, and vocals. The the Shamrock Traditional Irish Music Society recently hosted The Alt at Newtown Meeting House, and a very enthusiastic crowd welcomed them.