Ridgefield’s Arts Watch: Here are the arts, cultural events to look forward to in May

Events at the Ridgefield Playhouse are among several arts and cultural programs held this month in town.

Events at the Ridgefield Playhouse are among several arts and cultural programs held this month in town.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

The Ridgefield Arts Council presents this monthly column on a roundup of the month’s key arts and culture events in town to celebrate the numerous arts organizations that make Ridgefield’s vibrant and thriving art scene possible and to promote Ridgefield as Connecticut’s first cultural district.

A very happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. As for those of you still thinking about Mother’s Day plans, there’s plenty to do this weekend. There’s still time to buy tickets for a dinner and a show. Steve Solomon is performing in “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m In Therapy!” at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Sunday, May 8. You’re bound to have a rollicking time at this award winning one man show featuring a multi-ethnic dysfunctional family brought to life by Solomon through hilarious impersonations of sundry family members, including the therapist.

Another good Mother’s Day weekend celebration option is Ridgefield Theater Barn’s “Spring Piano Bar…N” on May 6 and 7. The Theater Barn promises the thrill of an interactive, entertaining evening of wicked fun, live music and talented performers. The cabaret seating enhances the communal experience so do check it out. And if you miss this event, then May 13’s improvisational comedy, “Whose Barn is it?” sounds like a very good time too.

The cold spell we’ve been having might have delayed some outdoor activities but how can one complain? It has also prolonged the blooming season for all the flowering trees and spring flowers. Joyful indeed the riot of colors one sees driving around. The vibrant colors of the paintings on display at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists “Coming of Age” exhibition seem to mirror the upbeat mood and colors that spring ushers in. The exhibition features art in a mix of mediums by artists who are all above 60 years of age. Each work is a rumination on the question, “What happens to the passion, vision and creative drive of visual artists as they age?,” although the theme of the exhibition is not aging itself. The brilliant bursts of color defy time itself in embodying the vitality of the artists and their creativity. The exhibition has been on since April and closes on May 8, so catch it if you can.

One of the best part of living in Ridgefield is that we have access to many of New York City’s best art and cultural events right here in town. ACT of CT, for instance, will be staging the long running and critically acclaimed Broadway play, Rent, May 26 -June 19. A pop-cultural phenomenon, the story follows a group of impoverished artists and musicians as they attempt to make it in the Big Apple. ACT has a special opening night performance pre-show cocktail reception on May 28 where you can nibble on hors d’oeuvres and hob nob with the actors and creative folks of the show.

The Ridgefield Playhouse’s Met Opera in HD series is another way to catch world class Operas long distance right here at home in town. This month, the Playhouse features Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Puccini’s Turandot. Inspired by the Persian collection of stories called “The Book of One Thousand and One Days,” it features Turandot, an icy princess who rebuffs all admirers until Prince Calaf is able to woo her successfully after many a challenge. The lead singer is Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska who steps into the lead role as Puccini’s icy princess for The Met Opera. On May 15, you can see an encore presentation of the Strauss enchanting masterpiece, Ariadne Auf Naxos, which features soprano Lise Davidsen in one of her signature roles. On June 4, the Playhouse will feature a live HD performance of Hamlet.

Heady stuff indeed steeped in the high western classical tradition but if you are looking for more contemporary classics then surely South Korean auteur Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” qualifies as one. An international box office smash hit, it premiered at Cannes in 2019 and was the first Korean film to win the Palme d’Or and went on to win numerous Oscars as well. Described by its creator as “a comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains,” it is a genre- fluid dystopian satire on human greed and corruption. You can watch it free on May 3, at the Playhouse as part of its “Diversity Series.” Another film to watch in this series is Keep the Change, a lighthearted, yet radical reinvention of the New York romantic comedy where two autistic adults fall in love with one another. Director Rachael Israel succeeds in making an authentically inclusive film by casting actors who are all differently abled and thus achieves a naturalism that is uplifting without being smarmy.

Speaking of diversity, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Keeler Tavern’s Author Talk between Todd Brewster and Marc Lamont Hill about their new book, “Seen and Unseen: Technology, Social Media,” and the “Fight for Racial Justice.” It connects the contemporary Black Lives Matter moment to the history of race in America and how we can move forward the movement for racial justice with all the tools that technology and media provide for documentation and advocacy.

And finally, on Saturday, May 14, The Ridgefield Chorale presents “Only All of Us,” a multi-media choral musical, the first-ever collaboration of Chorale Artistic Director Daniela Sikora and Stage Director/ Playwright Carol Mark accompanied by the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra. “Only All of Us” is a heartfelt musical evening celebrates the shared global experience of the pandemic and our resilience in emerging stronger from the collective trauma of the pandemic.

These are just a select few of the art events in town. For more information on these, and other events check out the websites of all these organizations.

Raje Kaur is a member of the Ridgefield Arts Council