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Love is in the air – and on the screen – for Valentine’s Day

  • Music on Norway Pond will host Nik Walker for a livestream concert from his home in New York City on Sunday, Feb. 14 at 4 p.m. Courtesy photo

  • '7th Heaven' will be shown with live music on Sunday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre. Courtesy photo—

  • '7th Heaven' will be shown with live music on Sunday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/12/2021 10:35:22 AM

Love has been documented through the arts since the very beginning – through stories of feeling, passionate songs and carefully crafted tales.

Each one sparks a series of emotions and it’s hard not to get a little chocked up when those all time classics are revisited. Sunday is the biggest day of love of the year, but Valentine’s Day 2021 will be a little different given where things stand in the world. Doing some of the normal things with your valentine might not be possible, but never fear because there are options.

This weekend will be filled with opportunities to share that feeling of love with those around you through a livestreamed concert, play readings and a silent film classic on the big screen – with live music. Love will certainly be in the air.

Music on Norway Pond

Jody Hill Simpson, the founder of Music on Norway Pond, first met Nik Walker when as a 7-year-old second grader he joined her PALS Children’s Chorus in Massachusetts. Back then, Walker was focused and had talent, and Simpson knew he had a future in the arts. She just didn’t know he was going to become a star on Broadway.

“You could imagine it, but you never really know,” Simpson said. “But I could see it and he’s going to be a force in the world; he already is.”

The two kept in touch and Simpson followed his career as he starred as Aaron Burr in “Hamilton,” both on Broadway and touring around the country. Last March, Simpson made her way to New York to see him star in the Temptations musical “Ain’t Too Proud.” The following day, Broadway shut down.

On Sunday at 4 p.m., Music on Norway Pond will host Walker for a livestream concert from his home in New York City filled with songs from “Hamilton,” “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Ragtime” and “Carousel” as well as other classics that evoke a feeling of togetherness and love.

“There’s a lot of moving songs,” Simpson said.

Most of Music on Norway Pond’s shows were canceled over the summer, only hosting a few socially distanced outdoor concerts, including a Carol Fest event on the Hancock Common in December.

But as Simpson tried to plan more for the organization she got the idea of asking Walker to do a livestreamed concert. It would be the first of its kind for Music on Norway Pond but Simpson felt Walker would be perfect for it.

“I thought if I could do anything, this would be the one online concert,” Simpson said. “If we’re going to livestream something, we’re so lucky to have this happening.”

During the broadcast, Simpson will showcase some of the video clips she found in her archives of Walker when he was a young chorus member.

The show is free, but those who wish can donate to Walker’s favorite charity, Give Kids The World.

“My goal is to just get lots of people watching because by the end they will feel like they know him,” Simpson said. “And because we all need happy right now.”

Simpson is not sure what is next for Music on Norway Pond, but she’s just happy to have the opportunity to showcase her student from so many years ago.

“I’m trying to figure out ways to keep the Music on Norway Pond community together in a safe way,” she said.

To receive the link to the concert, visit www.musiconnorwaypond.org. The concert will be available on the Music on Norway Pond YouTube channel following the livestream.

Park Theatre

Valentine’s Day will have a little extra love this year with The Park Theatre producing a live-streamed reading of two powerful and witty one-act plays from acclaimed British playwright Alfred Sutro. Beloved actors Lisa Bostnar and Gus Kaikkonen will read “A Marriage Has Been Arranged” and “The Open Door” live on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.

“They are so lovely and nuanced and powerful and funny,” Bostnar said. “I’d like to do them (on the stage).”

Bostnar and Kaikkonen first met in 1995 and have worked together on too many projects to count.

“He’s directed me, I don’t know how many times, hundreds probably,” Bostnar said. “We’ve worked together so many places.”

One of Bostnar’s top three plays was when she shared the stage with Kaikkonen for the two-character production of “Annapurna” at the Peterborough Players. They even did a Valentine’s Day reading in 2017, “Famous Letters of Love, Passion and Romance” at The River Street Theatre.

“A Marriage Has Been Arranged” tells the touching and funny story of a self-made millionaire proposing marriage to the noble but penniless Lady.

“But it’s not your standard, run of the mill marriage proposal,” Bostnar said.

In “The Open Door” Sir Geoffrey Transom has a frank and intimate conversation with his best friend’s wife late in the evening at a cottage by the sea, “about love, about relationships,” Bostnar said.

Sutro, a contemporary (and friend) of D.H. Lawrence and George Bernard Shaw, was well-known for his immensely popular plays produced in London’s West End at the beginning of the 20th century. Many of his plays were brought to Broadway with great success. Additionally, Sutro adapted several for the silver screen.

There will be a live audience talk-back after the production where Bostnar and Kaikkonen will take questions from the audience.

Encore on-demand showings of the production will be made available starting Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Tickets for the live-streamed show are $12 and can be purchased by visiting https://theparktheatre.org/ or by calling the theatre’s box office at (603) 532-8888.

Sunflower’s Café in Jaffrey will be offering special Valentine’s Day Eve takeout dinners in conjunction with the live-streamed event. Interested patrons can reach the restaurant on Facebook, https://www.sunflowersnh.com, or by calling (603) 593-3303.

Wilton Town Hall Theatre

It’s a one-of-a-kind film about a timeless topic: true love.

“7th Heaven” (1927), a romantic drama that won actress Janet Gaynor the first-ever Best Actress Academy Award, will be shown with live music on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 2 p.m. at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre. Live music will be provided by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist.

“7th Heaven,” which also netted Frank Borzage the first Best Director Oscar, is a fable set in Paris just before World War I. It’s the story of an abused and abandoned young woman (Gaynor) who is cast aside by her family, only to be adopted by an ebullient sewer worker (Charles Farrell) with his sights set on higher things.

In her new home, the girl learns a fresh way of looking at life. Eventually love blossoms – but will it survive the onset of war? Borzage used all the techniques of silent film at its height to craft a universal and timeless story that audiences have found moving since the picture’s first release in 1927, one year before the talkie revolution.

“7th Heaven” received the most nominations of any film – a total of five – at the first-ever Academy Awards ceremony, held on May 16, 1929, in the waning days of the silent era.

Besides winning Best Actress for Gaynor and Best Director for Borzage, it also won an Oscar for Benjamin Glazer in the Best Writing, Adapted Story category. “7th Heaven” was also nominated for ‘Outstanding Picture, Production’ (the forerunner of today’s ‘Best Picture’ category) and ‘Best Art Direction.’

Live music will be provided by Rapsis, who improvises scores for silent films using a digital synthesizer to recreate the texture of the full orchestra.

“It’s kind of a high wire act,” Rapsis said. “But for me, the energy of live performance is an essential part of the silent film experience.”

“7th Heaven” was remade in 1937 as a talking picture starring Simone Simon and Jimmy Stewart in the lead roles.

The Wilton Town Hall Theatre continues to observe procedures to comply with all state and CDC public health guidelines. Capacity is limited to 50 percent; patrons are required to maintain social distance and wear masks until seated.

Admission is free, but a donation of $10 per person is suggested to support the Wilton Town Hall Theatre’s silent film series.

For more information, visit www.wiltontownhalltheatre.com or call (603) 654-3456. For more about the music, visit www.jeffrapsis.com.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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