From Brazil to Manchester

Currier hosts first U.S. exhibit for Brazilian artist

The Currier Museum is hosting the first United States exhibit for internationally renowned artist Uýra. The exhibit, “The Living Forest: UÝRA (A Floresta Viva: UÝRA),” is a celebration of the artist’s indigenous identity, the nature of Brazil, and the complexities of gender in society.

Uýra is a nonbinary indigenous Brazilian artist. The work is primarily performance art, developing costumes and personas that reflect the struggles of indigenous people, the environment and transphobia in Brazil. Their work was the subject of the 2022 documentary Uýra: The Rising Forest.

“All these elements are played out in the physical transform by wearing natural elements, like natural dyes, tree bark and leaves, all from the mountains where they are from and live,” said the Currier’s chief curator, Lorenzo Fusi. “By creating this drag persona that is interspecies, inter-gender, it embodies everything from plants to animals and humans to nature as well, everything forming our universe.”

Uýra has never had a solo exhibit in the United States, Fusi said. He said the Currier was honored to be giving Uýra their first American showcase. This is also one of the largest solo exhibitions Uýra has done.

Because of the performative nature of Uýra’s artwork, Fusi said there was a distinct challenge in how to set up the shows. Fusi said that one of the ways they plan to capture Uýra’s performances is through a book the museum is publishing.

“The way they perform, sometimes [the performances] aren’t meant to have a live audience, those are more like rituals and more personal actions,” Fusi said. Because of the sometimes solitary nature of Uýra’s art, there are videos and photographs documenting those performances. “Everything is installed in a way so that the audience enters into the environment. The whole show is very immersive.”

On the opening day, Uýra will give a live performance. Fusi said it won’t be the last time they perform, and the Currier plans to have them back at least for the museum’s summer block party on July 15.

“It’s such an interesting practice … because of the element of magic that comes from Uýra performing, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

When it comes to the opening of the exhibit, whether visitors are able to see Uýra’s performances or not, Fusi hopes the artwork will spark important conversations. He wants people to not just see the artwork as beautiful, but see the ideologies of the artist and discuss the messages Uýra is trying to convey.

“There are different levels to [the art]; the beauty and seduction of the images, but they speak across barriers of race and cultural backgrounds, which is so immediate and strong and powerful,” Fusi said. “If you want to scratch the surface of visual engagement, pick and choose one of the many themes. Protection of environment, gender and indigenous rights are the three key points I’d like people to take away.”

The Living Forest: UÝRA (A Floresta Viva: UÝRA)
Where: Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St. in Manchester;, 669-6144)
When: Opens Thursday, May 11, with a performance at 7 p.m. The exhibition will be on display through Sept. 24.
Hours: The museum is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fridays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $15 for adults, $13 for 65+, $10 for students, $5 for 13 through 17 and free for children under 13. Admission is also free for all from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and free for New Hampshire residents on the second Saturdays of the month (including this Saturday, May 13).

Featured photo: A Mata Te Se Come, 2018. Photo by Lisa Hermes.

Singing through the years

NH Gay Men’s Chorus celebrates its 25th anniversary

The New Hampshire Gay Men’s Chorus. will celebrate its 25th anniversary by kicking off its spring concert series this weekend.

“I’m very excited about what we’re doing,” chorus executive director John McGeehan said. “I feel like it was yesterday that it was Jan. 10 and we were just first getting together for the year to start getting the concert together.”

Luc Andre Roberge has been the artistic director for 23 years at the chorus and a member since it was created. He said that he, along with other founding members, had seen the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus perform and thought that the representation and the message of the organization was one they could bring to the Granite State.

“We decided that we could do this in New Hampshire, and in the beginning of ’98, we put a call out, had about 50, 60 people at the first rehearsal, and only a dozen came back,” Roberge said. “Also, this was a time where you didn’t want to be open to the public, you didn’t want to be out of the closet in any way.”

Roberge said that it was hard for members to openly claim their identity as gay men at that time. When the organization was first formed, he said, Jim Bretz, a huge figure in New Hampshire’s LGBTQ community, told them there was a good chance the organization wouldn’t last longer than three years and that making it to five years would be incredible.

“None of us at the time thought it would make it to 25 years,” Roberge said. “Those that are not with us who started us up, I’m sure they’re smiling down and saying, ‘We’re so happy.’ We persist and we have persevered.”

Roberge designed the music for the concert to celebrate the last quarter of a century of music. There will be songs from musicals, including Rent, as well as more traditional choral pieces and covers of popular music.

McGeehan, who has been a part of the chorus since he first moved to New Hampshire in 2017, said that it’s important for people to realize they aren’t a group of professional musicians, just people who spread love and positivity through music. He added that just because they aren’t professionals doesn’t mean they don’t strive to make wonderful music — it’s just not the chorus’s only goal.

“One of the missions is not just to put on the best concert that we can, and I think we succeed every season, but be a community and social organization,” McGeehan said. “We give concerts every year at various town pride events, but also free concerts at local assisted facilities, singing the national anthem at New Hampshire Special Olympics, as well as at the Boston Red Sox in June for Pride Night.”

While the chorus sings at pride events throughout New Hampshire, McGeehan said the ones that were most important to him were when the chorus sang at several towns’ first pride parades. He said it allowed for the chorus to show other people in the LGBTQ community that they aren’t alone, that they have a space for people like them.

“To see how well this has come together, it’s actually incredible,” McGeehan said. “Here’s to 25 years, it’s been a lot of fun. I think with the kind of support we are having, I see someone welcoming us to the 50th anniversary someday.”

Silver Seasons of Love: New Hampshire Gay Men’s Chorus 25th Anniversary Concert
• Saturday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m., at Plymouth Congregational Church UCC, 4 Post Office Square in Plymouth.
• Sunday, May 7, 4 p.m., at First Baptist Church of Nashua, 121 Manchester St., Nashua.
• Saturday, May 20, at 7:30 p.m., at Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 22 Fox Run Road in Newington.
• Sunday, May 21, at 4 p.m., Derryfield School, 2108 River Road in Manchester.
Tickets: $20 for adults (ages 12 and under admitted free, email for children’s tickets). See the website for links to purchase tickets at each location.

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

Read locally

Special events and deals for Independent Bookstore Day

Independently owned bookstores across New Hampshire are getting ready to celebrate what makes them unique with Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 29.

The stores will have a variety of deals, events and readings during the day.

“Indie bookstores are so important,” said Cassie Mosher, manager at Bookery in Manchester. “We don’t fit in any mold. We really listen to customers and there’s no limitations on what kind of [books] we carry.”

Bookery will have a chance for in-store shoppers to find a golden ticket that has a $50 gift card; online shoppers will get a free gift with their order; and cat and book enthusiasts can choose which employee’s cat will inspire the shop’s next stuffed animal mascot.

While Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord will have plenty of deals, prizes, raffles and gifts for shoppers, there will also be a special treat in the form of some local writers.

“Three of our local authors will be joining us throughout the day as Booksellers for a Day,” said Ryan Clark, the marketing manager for Gibson’s Bookstore.

The authors, Linda Reilly, Erin Bowman and Jennifer Anne Gordon, will be recommending books during their respective “shifts,” Clark said. Reilly will work from 10 a.m. to noon, recommending mystery novels, Bowman will be in from noon to 2 p.m., giving her expert advice on young adult and middle-grade books, and Gordon will be around from 2 to 4 p.m. pointing out her favorite horror books.

“Independent bookstores are integrable parts of the community,” Mosher said. “It’s where you meet new friends, or come in and have a cup of coffee, or hang out to do your work. We need to celebrate these places in the community because they’re so far and few in-between.”

Here are other shops participating in Independent Bookstore Day:

Annie’s Bookstop of Nashua (650 Amherst St., 882-9178, The shop is having a half-off sale for pre-read Debbie Macomber’s and James Patterson’s books.

Book and Bar (40 Pleasant St., Portsmouth, 427-9197, Book and Bar is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Independent Bookstore Day. It will have a friends and family discount and a raffle that customers are entered into for every $10 they spend on books, and there is a cocktail naming contest.

Bookery (844 Elm St., Manchester, 836-6600, In addition to the happenings listed above, shoppers will be able to draw a surprise discount of between 5 and 30 percent off their purchase. There will also be a kids’ Storytime & Crafts with a bookstore theme to celebrate the day at 11:30 a.m.

Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, In addition to having local authors giving out book advice, Gibsons will give shoppers two stamps on frequent buyer cards for every $10 spent, first come, first served exclusive items, a raffle for an Independent Bookstore Day bundle, advance reader copies of books sent to the store for shoppers who spend $100 or more, and a golden ticket for 12 audiobook credits for

Morgan Hill Bookstore (253 Main St., New London, 526-5850, There will be a 20 percent off sale for all books.

RiverRun Bookstore (32 Daniel St., Portsmouth, 431-2100, The store is offering discounts at 10, 15, and 20 percent when one, two or three or more books are purchased.

Toadstool Books (12 Depot St., Peterborough, 924-3543, There will be a presentation and reading by Alan Rumrill from his latest book, Monadnock Originals: Colorful Characters from New Hampshire’s Quietest Corner, at 11 a.m.

A century of music

Symphony New Hampshire is celebrating its centennial

For a century, Symphony New Hampshire has been bringing classical music to the Granite State. On its 100th birthday, the symphony will perform a concert featuring music from the first performance in 1923 and will host a gala celebrating the landmark anniversary.

“All of this has been daunting and exciting at the same time to celebrate 100 years,” said Deanna Hoying, the executive director of the symphony. “This whole season has been about that.”

The symphony will perform Antonin Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, featuring internationally renowned cellist Amit Peled, and Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B minor ‘Unfinished,’ both of which were performed during its very first concert. The program will be rounded out with ‘On the Beautiful Blue Danube’ by J. Strauss Jr. and Johannes Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 5.

Hoying said it was important for the symphony to celebrate the music and its legacy, which was a main reason it partnered with Peled for this concert. She added that this concert is just as important to the local arts community in New Hampshire as it is to the music world.

“This is a celebration of the arts in New Hampshire … and that they’re alive and well in the state,” Hoying said. “Maybe this is the end of the first chapter [for the symphony], but we’re going to open the book, turn the page to the next chapter.”

The gala following the reception will be opened by a poem written and read especially for the event by New Hampshire’s Poet Laureate Alexandria Peary. The symphony also partnered with artist William Mitchel, who made custom prints commemorating the event. Hoying said that, due to board members’ reserving prints in advance, there will be fewer than 100 copies for the public to snatch up.

To Hoying, this event is about giving thanks to the directors of the symphony, the musicians, the patrons of the arts, and the music lovers who came before.

“One hundred years of patrons and musicians and artists that struggled to keep Symphony New Hampshire going — we owe a large debt of gratitude to all of them when they struggled and weren’t sure what would come next,” said Hoying. “We stand on their shoulders and say thank you.”

Even with the symphony standing tall now, Hoying remembers the fear during the pandemic. She and members of the symphony’s board remember worrying over the future of live music in New Hampshire. The symphony is in a much more comfortable position since the first show after the pandemic’s end in 2021, which Hoying said only inspires them to do more.

“We’re really excited for the next 100 years; that’s why we called this concert ‘Momentum,’” Hoying said. “When we started thinking about this, momentum felt right. The momentum from the last 100 years will carry us to what we look like in year 101, 105 and 110.”

Symphony NH: Momentum! 100 Year Anniversary Concert
Where: Nashua Center for the Arts, 201 Main St.
When: Saturday, April 29, at 4 p.m.
Price: Adult tickets start at $39, senior tickets at $34, student and youth tickets at $12

Featured photo: Symphony NH’s full orchestra. Courtesy photo.

In record time

Celebrate music with Record Store Day

Special releases and pressings of records will be gone before consumers know it on Record Store Day.

Across the country and the world, millions of people will go to record stores to snatch up limited-edition vinyls.

“There’s about 500 titles this year, which is a lot less than they’ve had in the past,” said Bill Proulx of Metro City Records in Manchester. “There are lots of limited-edition records that don’t go on sale until that day. Usually, everything sells out in half an hour to an hour.”

One of the biggest titles coming to the day will be a special pressing of Taylor Swift’s album Folklore that will have never-before-featured music and audio. Swift’s album had been produced during the pandemic and in complete isolation. This special edition, called Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Recording, has 115,000 copies going on sale around the world on Record Store Day, with 75,000 going on sale in the States.

Other titles stores are excited about include a release from Billy Joel before he was popular, singing covers of Elton John and other influences in the piano man’s music. There will also be a multi-record release from Van Halen and live recordings from Pearl Jam and Grateful Dead concerts.

“The growth of physical music sales, like CDs, bottomed out and vinyl has been a straight growth since Record Store Day started,” said Chris Brown, vice president of finance for Bull Moose Music, which has a store in Salem. “Now it’s crazy. Probably more records will sell on this one day than [sold in] all of 2007; it’s that big.”

Brown had been the head of the coalition that founded Record Store Day. He said that it was something that everyone in his group felt was doable, combining special releases of records with local live bands performing, and other little perks the stores felt they could pull off.

On the first year of Record Store Day in 2008, Brown hadn’t expected much to happen. He said the group had anticipated 200 stores across the country to participate, and to amass a small following of hardcore record collectors. Instead, the day was more successful than he’d thought it would be.

“Something like 600 stores participated that year, and that was really just in the U.S.,” Brown said. “Way more people showed up than we thought. The vibe was wonderful. It changed the mood in the music industry.”

Brown noticed that there’s a change in Record Store Day’s participating artists. Instead of being focused more on classic rock bands from the 1970s, there’s a growing number of groups from the late 1980s and 1990s. Even modern bands and musicians other than Swift, like The 1975 and Post Malone, are participating in the day.

“The trends look like [Record Store Day is] trying to get new people in stores,” said John Benedict, the owner of Music Connection in Manchester. “The focus seems to be on things that kids might buy today. [The records] are not appealing to me as much anymore.”

Benedict said that he’s happy to see vinyl still being celebrated and having younger generations love it the way he had. He said that, to him, records represented more than just a physical copy of music, it’s the only way music was accessible for his generation.

“Most customers have maybe 25 to 50 records tops,” Benedict said. “Their collections don’t get into hundreds anymore.”

Record Store Day participating stores
Bull Moose
419 South Broadway, Salem, 898-6254,
Defiant Records
609 Main St., Units 1 and 2, Laconia, 527-8310,
Metro City Records
691 Somerville St., Manchester, 665-9889,
Music Connection
1711 S. Willow St., Manchester, 644-0199,
Newbury Comics
777 S. Willow St., Manchester, 624-2842; Pheasant Lane Mall, 310 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua, 888-0720;The Mall at Rockingham Park, 99 Rockingham Park Blvd, 890-1380;
NH Vintage Vinyl
633 Main St., Laconia, 527-8124,
Pitchfork Records
2 S. Main St., Concord, 224-6700,

Get wild

Discover WILD NH Day celebrates the outdoors

Saturday, April 15, is the annual celebration of wildlife and outdoor fun known as Discover WILD New Hampshire Day.

“When I started I would see kids coming, and now those people are bringing their kids to the event,” said Mark Beauchesne, WILD New Hampshire Day’s coordinator. “It’s pretty cool to see year after year that this is part of their spring tradition.”

The free event, now in its 33rd year, will have a little bit of everything for everyone, Beauchesne said. People can enjoy different demonstrations, meet with a local author, and participate in other family fun activities, all while learning more about ways to spend time enjoying the local environment.

“This event, it’s a good way to make some connections with organizations that provide resources to the great outdoors,” Beauchnese said. “We’ve got a lot of different things that will connect people with getting outside.”

The biggest goal of WILD New Hampshire Day is to expose people to all the Granite State has to offer in outdoor recreation, but it shows people how to protect the local ecosystem and wildlife as well. Volunteers and experts from New Hampshire Environmental Educators, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, and the New Hampshire Audubon will all have booths set up.

Beauchnese said the recreational booths will have something for people of all levels of outdoor sporting skill. Whether it’s learning about off-road vehicles, hunting and fishing, or how to easily plan a family hike or the best ways to start a backyard garden, there will be a group ready to show the visitor the ropes.

“A good, large portion of the U.S. and the world look to New Hampshire for outdoor recreation,” Beauchesne said. “This gives us an opportunity to get closer to it and connect to the live outdoors.”

In addition to the booths and outdoor recreation demonstrations, there will be craft spaces, dog show demonstrations from Rise and Shine Retrievers, live animal presentations and more. The event will also have an assortment of food trucks from Smokestack, Bugaboos, Cody’s Sausage and Hotbox.

Last year approximately 8,000 people came to the event, Beauchesne said, and his personal favorite part was the first big event of the day: opening the gates.

“It’s the countdown, from 10 to ‘Happy Discover WILD New Hampshire Day,’” Beauchesne said. “People flood in, and it’s such a fun feeling. You can really feed off of that.”

Discover WILD New Hampshire Day
Where: 11 Hazen Drive, Concord
When: Saturday, April 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Easter egg-stravaganza

Get your hunt on at one of the many egg hunts and Easter events

Kids can get ready to meet the Easter bunny, hunt down some eggs, and score some cool prizes this weekend at one of many Easter events.

• Come to the Rodgers Memorial Library (194 Derry Road, Hudson) for Curious Kids: Easter Egg Puffy Paint on Thursday, April 6, at 10 a.m. The program will have a sensory bin, art and engineering designed for kids ages 2 to 6. For more information, visit

• Altitude Trampoline Park’s three locations (Altitude Trampoline Park, 150 Bridge St., Pelham; 270 Loudon Road, Concord; 360 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack) are hosting an Easter Eggstravaganza on Friday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to noon. Reservations cost $22 and can be made at

• Visit Benchmark at Rye (295 Lafayette Road) for springtime activities and an intergenerational Easter egg hunt on Friday, April 7, at noon. See

• Skyzone (365 Lincoln St., Manchester) is hosting a Little Leapers Easter Egg Hunt on Friday, April 7, from noon to 1 p.m. Tickets cost $11 and can be purchased at

• Come to Derryfield Park in Manchester for an Easter Egg Hunt on Friday, April 7, at 4 p.m. Registration is free; see

• The Gilford Youth Center and the Gilford Parks and Recreation Department are hosting Breakfast with Bunny and Friends at the center (19 Potter Hill Road) on Saturday, April 8, from 8 to 10 a.m. Kids and their families can have their picture taken with the Easter Bunny and enjoy breakfast, face painting and coloring pages, and they can enter in a cookie walk and basket raffle. The breakfast costs $4 for kids, $6 for adults. Visit

• The 14th Annual Our Promise to Nicholas Indoor Maze to the Egg Hunt is on Saturday, April 8, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the NH Sportsplex (68 Technology Dr., Bedford). Kids will explore the indoor maze and fill their baskets with some of the 15,000 plastic eggs available for the hunt. Ticket price ranges from $8 to $56. Visit

• The Egg-Citing Egg Hunt is back at Charmingfare Farm (774 High St., Candia) on Saturday, April 8, and Sunday, April 9, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets to attend cost $22 and can be purchased at

• The Carriage Shack Farm (5 Dan Hill Road, Londonderry) is hosting an Easter Bunny Party on Saturday, April 8, at 10 a.m. In addition to spending time with the Easter Bunny and the farm’s animals, kids can collect Easter eggs and treasures on the Easter bunny trail. Tickets cost $12.95 for adults, $10.95 for kids ages 1 to 15, and kids younger than 1 are free. Visit to purchase tickets.

Hudson’s Best Egg Hunt at Inner Dragon Martial Arts (77 Derry Road in Hudson) will have hunt times at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon on Saturday, April 8, featuring more than 5,000 eggs and photos with the Easter Bunny. See to reserve a spot.

• Head to Arthur Donati Memorial Field (51 Main St., Hooksett) for the For The City Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 8, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The hunts will be grouped by age and held across three fields. Visit

• Everyone Eats Different Food is hosting an Easter Egg Hunt with a special appearance by the Easter Bunny at Greeley Park (100 Concord St., Nashua) on Saturday, April 8, at 10:30 a.m. Registration is free. Visit

• Miles Smith Farm (56 Whitehouse Road, Loudon) is hosting Easter on the Farm on Saturday, April 8, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Kids will be allowed to sit on the Scottish Highland cow, Curious Blu, and meet the other barnyard animals. Tickets cost $15 for adults; children are free. Visit

• The 5th Annual Nashua Easter Family Fun Day is going to be at Broad Street Elementary School (390 Broad St., Nashua) on Saturday, April 8. The fun day (which runs from noon to 5 p.m.) will have egg hunts, games, food, vendors and crafters, and free pictures with the Easter Bunny. Tickets cost $2 for the kids’ egg hunt (on April 4, available time slots start at 11:30 a.m.). Visit to reserve a spot.

• Come to the Amherst Town Green (Main Street) on April 8, for Amherst’s Best Easter Egg Hunt at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. There will be more than 5,000 eggs hidden throughout the green for kids to find, including golden eggs with special prizes. Visit to reserve a spot.

• The 7th Annual Special Needs Easter Egg Hunt will be at Stark Park (650 River Road, Manchester) on Saturday, April 8, at 2 p.m. Kids will be able to hunt for Easter eggs and get a special Easter surprise. See

LIVE! In Nashua

Performers hit the stage at the newly opened Nashua Center for the Arts

After two years of building, 10 years of planning and more than 20 years of dreaming, the Nashua Center for the Arts has finally opened its doors.

“This is going to make a huge difference for our community, for Nashua, for many, many years to come,” said Mayor Jim Donchess at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, April 1. “Over the decades, people will become very appreciative of everything that was done by all the people here that made this project possible.”

Donors, board members, patrons of the arts, politicians and their families and friends attended the ribbon cutting ceremony. The front rows of the theater held people who had helped organize and plan the theater over the decades, all of whom got recognition from either Richard Lannan, the president of Nashua Community Arts, Mayor Donchess, Sarah Stewart, the commissioner for the department of natural and cultural resources, or Pete Lally, the president of Spectacle Live, the venue management company for the center.

Donchess read letters written by Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Annie Kuster. Stewart applauded the ability to have a place like the center built, and described how it would change the scene of arts in the Gate City and the state as a whole.

“I love that you’re so excited about the impact this place will make in Nashua, but I’m here to tell you you’re impacting the entire state,” Stewart said. She said that the center will be held in the same regard as the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, the New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud competition, and the New Hampshire Film Festival in Portsmouth, which was recently named an Academy Award qualifying event. “What you’re doing here is going to be amazing for the state of art in New Hampshire and beyond. You’re going to be the shining star of what the future looks like for arts in Nashua.”

group of people standing on stage, 2 holding ribbon across stage as 1 man cuts it during opening ceremony
Mayor Jim Donchess cuts the ceremonial ribbon, officially opening Nashua Center for the Arts for performances. Photo by Katelyn Sahagian.

The private ribbon cutting ceremony was followed by a sold-out show featuring a variety of local talent. New Hampshire performers from the ActorSingers, Safe Haven Ballet, Akwabba Ensemble, Peacock Players, Symphony NH and more graced the stage for the first time, but not the last.

“One of the things we’re trying to establish early on is that this isn’t a venue where you just expect one type of genre or show,” Lally said. “Lots of places get pigeonholed with the type of shows they do. We worked very hard to make sure we’re doing a little bit of everything.”

In addition to national touring acts, like Boz Scaggs, Steve Hofstetter and Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, Spectacle has put an emphasis on making sure that the theater is going to be home to local performers. Safe Haven Ballet’s “Beauty and the Beast” is performing one of its three shows at the theater, and Symphony NH will have its 100-year anniversary show there.

“[Nashua Center for the Arts] isn’t replacing anything in Nashua; it’s adding to it,” Lally said. “It’s also adding to an arts infrastructure and scene downtown.”

Decades in the making

While the steering committee first started holding meetings, public hearings and workshops for this project in 2016, the idea for a citywide theater had already been around for years. The initial proposal for a performing arts center was in the 2000 city’s master plan.

More proposals followed in 2003, 2010 and 2014 before the committee brought in Webb Management Services to see how viable a theater would be for the downtown area and if it would be well-received by other local business owners.

Typically, Webb will determine that cities contacting them don’t have the demand needed to support a theater. Lannan and the rest of the steering committee had hoped the organization would find them in the small percentage of cities in which a theater would thrive.

“The original study from Webb design, I asked the same question, ‘What … percentage of the studies you do actually end up happening?’” Lannan said. “They said that the vast majority of theaters don’t happen. When ours came back, they told us, ‘You’re not going to do a Verizon center or SNHU Arena, but Nashua is clamoring for this.’”

The study suggested a 750-seat theater would be optimal for the area. Instead of settling for just a traditional theater, the steering committee decided to make the orchestra seats fully removable. After folding down the chairs, an operator can push a button and create an empty area in a matter of minutes.

The theater also has two sets of stairs and an elevator, multiple bathrooms on all four stories, and two lobbies that double as concession stands. There is a set-up and prep area for caterers, an outdoor balcony overlooking Main Street, and an art gallery.

Lannan said the board wanted to do something special, something that would be completely unique to the center. Having the ability to turn a theater into a standing-room-only venue or into a 50-table banquet hall would bring variety for theater-goers and performers.

Judith Carlson, a key member of the Nashua Arts Commission and Nashua Community Arts and a member of the center’s steering committee, said that for every meeting, Spectacle Live sent either a representative or its president, Pete Lally, to attend.

“One of the most beautiful things about this, Pete Lally or one of his staff were at every one of the planning committee meetings, not only selecting architect and construction,” Carlson said. “We had goals from Day 1 to make this a place … where both audiences and performers would want to come back to again and again.”

Interior shot of theater showing seats from the side, people milling around and sitting
The Bank of America Theater at the Nashua Center for the Arts filled up with patrons for the first sold-out show on April 1. Photo by Katelyn Sahagian.

Lannan and Carlson both said that having Lally or one of his people present was a game-changer when it came to planning out the design of the theater. Lannan said that having a person who knows the performance industry helped them come up with having all the amenities performers were looking for. Carlson said that it showed, to her, the devotion Spectacle Live put into the project.

Lally said he had been involved with planning the theater for approximately five or six years, and that it was exciting to work from the ground up. His company runs the Colonial Theatre in Laconia and The Flying Monkey Movie House & Performance Center in Plymouth, both of which opened early in the 20th century.

“The Colonial Theatre … opened in 1914, other buildings [we operate] have long history and chapters, but to be at the design phase has been unique,” Lally said. “From meeting the architects and engineers and designers, it’s been nice to be able to talk to those who were designing [the center]. It resulted in a unique building, one that the area will be happy with.”

More than theater

While the theater’s main draw will be live performances, there will be much more for people to enjoy when it comes to the arts.

“Nashua wanted to serve all kinds of art needs, including performance, and the gallery is part of that,” said Carol Robey, the chairwoman of the gallery. “To have community gallery space … people can see what kind of work artists are doing and give [the artists] an opportunity to sell.”

One major part of the new center will be the Sandy Cleary Gallery, a space for up to a dozen two-dimensional art pieces. The art shows will be staged in three-month rotations after an annual call for art.

April through June will usually be a slot for the students of Nashua’s public schools. This year the schools will begin their shows in May. The April show will be honoring the life of Meri Goyette, a longtime patron of Nashua’s, and New Hampshire’s, art scene.

“She was the queen of arts,” said Carlson. She said that, in addition to organizing art events and supporting local artists, Goyette was a founder of the International Sculpture Symposium, and on the board of directors for the Hunt Memorial Building. “For more than 50 years, she was the inspiration and facilitator for arts in Nashua.”

Carlson said it only felt right to have someone like Goyette, who advocated for years for an artistic home base in Nashua, be the subject of the first arts show in the gallery.

Because of Goyette’s friendship with artists, many painted or photographed her portrait. Robey said those paintings were in storage until now. She added that the portraits were less traditional pieces, some having bright colors and unique compositions that made them more exciting. Goyette’s vibrant personality is skillfully captured in the portraits and photographs hanging on the burnt orange walls. Glimpses of the joyful woman can be seen in the photograph of her dressed as Mrs. Claus. The side of her that was an avid art lover is shown in abstract artworks, including an impressionist-style portrait and a mirrored portrait in a graphic pointillism style.

All of the artwork is facing a window overlooking West Pearl Street, a strategic design to show the artwork more than just during operational hours, Robey said. In addition to having artist plaques with information inside the center, on the window outside the gallery there will be a QR code for passersby so they can read the information during off hours.

The gallery isn’t the only space where visual art will be appreciated, Robey said. She and other members of the art selection committee hope to have artists teach classes in part of the older building.

Carlson said that, with the gallery added in, the Nashua Center for the Arts isn’t just a destination for live music and performances; it’s a place where all art can find a home within the city.

While the center took years to be completed, Lally said it will be a part of Nashua for years to come. He said that having a space like the Center for the Arts will bring new opportunities for artists and arts lovers in Nashua.

“So many cities and towns we’re in touch with have the dream of a space like this; 99 percent never get there,” Lally said. “For Nashua to have pulled this off, it’s a real testament to all the work that’s made it happen, and it’s just about time to open the doors.”

Nashua Center for the Arts
201 Main St. in Nashua
Contact: 800-657-8874,
Parking: See the website for a map and listing of area parking lots. There are also two-hour-limit and no-time-limit street parking spaces within walking distance of the center.

First on stage

Q&A with Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken

The two American Idol alums are touring the country together in honor of the 20th anniversary of their appearances on the show. Studdard was declared the winner during Season 2 of the singing competition in 2003, with Aiken coming in second place by just 134,000 votes out of more than 24 million cast, the closest winning vote margin in American Idol history. Their second stop on their tour, Ruben and Clay: Twenty Years, One Night, is the Nashua Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 13. When they talked to The Hippo, neither had realized that their show was the first non-ceremonial performance scheduled to take place at the new venue.

You guys are the first touring act performing at the Nashua Center of the Arts.

CA (Clay Aiken): That’s cool. Wow. We are going to inaugurate that hell out of that thing.

So now that you guys know that, how does that feel knowing that you’re going to be the first people to really christen that stage?

RS (Ruben Studdard): After such a long, illustrious career, [he laughs] I have inaugurated several theaters.

CA: Have you?

RS: No. [still laughing]

CA: Well, I was about to say, I don’t think I’ve ever done that. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a theater for the first time. Well, you know what, if you’re going to do it, you do it right, Nashua, and you’ve done it right.

What’s it like going on tour together again 20 years after American Idol?

RS: It’s great. I mean, I’m excited to just spend time with my friend. I had such a great time when we were together planning and putting together the show. It’s so funny to see people’s reaction when they see us together, like at a restaurant. ’Cause of course, I mean like, what’s the odds of you walking into your local Italian restaurant and Clay and Ruben are just sitting there chumming it up?

CA: It’s kinda like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon hanging out together, right?

RS: Absolutely. That’s what it’s like.

Going off that, how did you become friends on [Idol] in the middle of a competition like that?

CA: It was a competition, but I think there were plenty of times throughout the show when I forgot it was a competition. Idol is not like Survivor, where you have to get someone else kicked off in order to be successful. I wanted to make sure I made it till Week 6 when my mom told me she was coming. I certainly never saw myself as being competitive. We both were on the same number of episodes; we both made it all the way to the end and I just never felt competitive against Ruben.

What can attendees expect for the performance at the Nashua Center for the Arts?

RS: To have a good time. You know, at the end of the day, everybody knows we can sing. The question is, can we entertain people for an hour and a half, two hours? And I think the thing that we’re putting together, the stories that we have, the music that we’re going to share, is going to be fun.

CA: It’s going to be an incredible opportunity to reminisce. You know, just the way we’re talking about the show ourselves, Idol was to our great fortune…. Nostalgia is big right now or has been big for a minute or two. People love the Roseanne reboot and the Will & Grace reboot and the Night Court reboot. I think we as a country are looking for things that are safe and fun that we know make us happy, and Idol made a lot of people happy in 2003.

For the performers

The creators of the center wanted to make the venue as luxurious for performers as it’s set to be for patrons.

“We’re really good about taking feedback,” said Jake Crumb, the facilities manager set up by Spectacle Live to run Nashua Center for the Arts. “When [performers and crew] arrive…they’re looking for a place that is somewhat comfortable and gives them amenities. We’ve taken [that] to heart and given them all the amenities they’d expect to have.”

The center worked with ICON Architecture and OTJ Architects for theater design, Fisher Dachs Associates for theater planning and equipment, Acentech for audiovisual and acoustic design, and Rist Frost Shumway for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, civil engineering and lighting design.

The state-of-the-art light system has LED theatrical lighting and 28 linesight rigging systems. The sound system is by Meyer Sound Laboratories and will have headset and handheld microphones. The center also houses audiovisual equipment for movies, film festivals and presentations, and a Yamaha C6X grand piano for performances.

The stage is approximately 30 feet deep from downstage to upstage and is 60 feet across from wing to wing.

There are many perks for performers and their crews off the stage, as well. The loading dock leads directly to the main stage area for easy access for setting up and taking down shows. There are two dressing rooms designed for stars, community dressing rooms, a lounge room, and a separate room for the crew. There are showers, a kitchenette with a refrigerator and microwave, and a washer and dryer.

See a show

Here are some of the shows on the schedule for the Nashua Center for the Arts. Buy tickets and get updates at

Ruben and Clay: Twenty Years, One Night (Thursday, April 13, 8 p.m.; Ticket price range: $49 to $89)

Suzanne Vega – An Intimate Evening of Songs and Stories (Saturday, April 15, 8 p.m.; $49 to $195)

Dopapod (Thursday, April 20, 8 p.m.; $24)

Girl Named Tom (Friday, April 21, 8 p.m.; $29 to $69)

Safe Haven Ballet Presents: Beauty and the Beast (Saturday, April 22, 4:30 p.m.; $40 to $45)

Symphony NH: Momentum! 100 Year Anniversary Concert (Saturday, April 29, 4 p.m.; $12 to $52)

Champions of Magic (Thursday, May 4, 7:30 p.m.; $39 to $69)

Gimme Gimme Disco (Friday, May 5, 8:30 p.m.; $19 to $24)

Broadway Rave (Saturday, May 6, 8:30 p.m.; $19 to $24)

Boz Scaggs (Thursday, May 11, 8 p.m.; $79 to $279)

BoDeans (Friday, May 12, 8 p.m.; $29 to $49)

Recycled Percussion (Saturday, May 13, 3 and 7 p.m.; $39.50 to $49.50)

Emo Night Brooklyn (Saturday, May 20, 8:30 p.m.; $19 to $24)

Celebrating Billy Joel: America’s Piano Man (Thursday, June 8, 8 p.m.; $29 to $59)

Pat Metheny Side-Eye (Friday, June 9, 8 p.m.; $59 to $99)

Menopause the Musical (Saturday, June 10; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; $31.30 to $69)

Grace Kelly (Saturday, June 17, 8 p.m.; $25 to $60)

Toad the Wet Sprocket (Sunday, June 18, 7 p.m.; $49 to $179)

Kashmir (Led Zeppelin tribute) (Friday, June 23, 8 p.m.; $29 to $59)

Tab Benoit (Thursday, July 13, 8 p.m.; $29 to $69)

An Evening with Tom Rush accompanied by Matt Nakoa (Friday, July 14, 8 p.m.; $29 to $69)

Jake Shimabukuro (Saturday, July 15, 8 p.m.; $29 to $69)

The High Kings (Sunday, July 30, 7 p.m.; $39 to $69)

Jesse Cook (Saturday, Aug. 5, 8 p.m.; $39 to $69)

Mary Chapin Carpenter (Sunday, Aug. 20, 7:30 p.m.; $49 to $89)

Ace Frehley (Saturday, Aug. 26, 8 p.m.; $49 to $79)

Tusk (Fleetwood Mac tribute) (Friday, Oct. 6, 8 p.m.; $29 to $49)

Steve Hofstetter (Saturday, Oct. 7, 8 p.m.; $29 to $104)

The Sixties Show (Sunday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m.; $29 to $59)

A month in verse

Poetry Society celebrates National Poetry Month

While the nation celebrates National Poetry Month in April, the Poetry Society of New Hampshire will take a more personal tone with some of its events.

The Society plans to honor Charles Simic, a former United States Poet Laureate, who died in January at 84 years old. Melanie Chicoine, president of the Poetry Society, said Simic helped drive literary culture in America and beyond. One of the most fitting ways to tribute him, Chicoine said, was to offer a reading of some of Simic’s poetry at University of New Hampshire, where he taught for 34 years.

“Simic’s influence reaches far beyond even the U.S.,” Chicoine said. “He has had such a lasting impact on … the poetry community…. So many up and coming and established poets have studied under him.”

When Simic died, Chicoine said, the Society wasn’t sure exactly how to honor him outside of his ties to UNH. It took time, but now the group, in conjunction with New Hampshire State Poet Laureate Alexandria Peary, has decided to run a contest in his memory.

The contest is open to amateur and professional adult writers around the world. Chicoine said the poem’s theme is to be commemorative of Simic, whether it be about him, be written in a style like his, or have a phrase or line borrowed from his own work.

“This contest will be a nice way to honor him, and hopefully we can look for other ways to do so as well,” Chicoine said.

In addition to a monetary prize made up in part from the competition’s entry fees, winners of the competition will have their poem read at another memorial event for Simic on May 7.

National Poetry Month in general is dedicated to bringing more people into the world of poetry.

“Poetry has a reputation of being out of reach and academic,” said Chicoine. “One of our goals is to make it more accessible.”

Peary said that, in addition to the competition for Simic, she’s offering another competition for teens to write. As part of her work as laureate, she focuses on teaching children and young adults how to express themselves through poetry. Her competition will seek submissions from students around the world, and she hopes to dedicate part of her youth-edited literary magazine Under the Madness to the winning submissions.

In April the Poetry Society’s website will have more information about both competitions. While the month is dedicated to reading, Peary wants people to challenge themselves to practice the art form she loves so much.

“I’m more interested in getting people to write [poetry] and pushing their own boundaries and surprising themselves,” Peary said. “That brings me so much joy, seeing what people are capable of with this genre.”

Events honoring Charles Simic

Charles Simic Memorial Event
Where: Hamilton Smith Hall, University of New Hampshire, 95 Main St., Durham
When: Wednesday, April 19, 5:15 p.m.

Come Closer and Listen: A Community Reading of Charles Simic Poems
Where: Hopkinton Town Library, 13 Main St.
When: Sunday, May 7, 3-5 p.m.


Featured photo: Charles Simic. Courtesy photo.

More space for more comics

Double Midnight Comics settling in at new spot

After 20 years in their old space, brothers and co-owners Chris and Scott Proulx and their business partner Brett Parker decided to move their Manchester comic book shop Double Midnight Comics to The Factory on Willow.

“It’s a community that we have, in the comic and game world,” said Scott Proulx. “It’s just amazing. For the most part we all get along and share common interests and a [its] place we all escape to together.”

The new location is 5,100 square feet, 1,200 more than the store’s original location on Maple Street. Proulx said the move has provided extra space for comic storage, shopping and in-store entertainment.

Proulx said the team wants to add miniatures for tabletop role-playing games and add more resources for the people who run those games.

A change that customers can already see is that the size of the back catalog has grown tremendously, Proulx said.

“It’s been really nice to build things out on our own and not be limited,” Proulx said. “It allows us to have a dedicated shipping and storage area, instead of packing things in different parts of the store. It effectively allows us to do more.”

The space isn’t just bringing new merchandise into the store; it’s also bringing more activities and gatherings for gamers, people looking for anime watch buddies, and more.

The new location boasts a large meeting room that, with dividers, can become two separate spaces. This means that nights for tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons can happen at the same time as anime screenings.

Proulx said the room will be invaluable when Free Comic Book Day comes around in May.

A huge draw for the store, Proulx said, was the fact that The Factory on Willow seemed excited to make Free Comic Book Day into something bigger than their previous space had. In addition to free books, the store is marketing this year’s event as a free mini ComicCon.

“In 48 hours we were completely booked by artists,” Proulx said. “We’re going to have 35 artists, some food trucks, outdoor activities, free comics and a lot of other things.”

The Factory on Willow is an apartment building with an artist in residence and art showcases, and soon will have a brewery opening up. Because of the community of artists at The Factory, Proulx said he is excited to see how people respond to the area.

Because of the Air BnB in The Factory, Proulx said they can have a room reserved for special guests, and he hopes to be able to have meet-and-greets with writers and artists and others from the communities the store caters to. Proulx said that it feels like the store is being included in a society of like-minded businesses at The Factory.

“The biggest thing is being part of a community,” Proulx said. “We have all these businesses who get together once a month and have a roundtable to talk about how we’re doing…. It’s a breath of fresh air.”

Double Midnight Comics
Where: 252 Willow St. in Manchester (Double Midnight also has a shop in Concord at 341 Loudon Road)
FCBD: Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, May 6, with a free comic con in the Factory’s event space from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. See the website for updates.

Featured photo: Double Midnight Comics at The Factory on Willow. Courtesy photos.

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