Bright ideas for New Year’s Eve
12/30/2009 10:36 AM EST
By Bryan Rourke
Journal Staff Writer PROVIDENCE — To go or not to go out? That is the question.
The answer is obvious: Get your coat.
Seriously, what’s the alternative?
“You could stay home and never leave your house,” says Adam Gertsacov, director of Bright Night Providence. “You could have Chinese food delivered and you could download videos” — definitely not something he recommends.
“There is no substitute for live entertainment. You can’t get the same feeling at home. It’s people being together. There is just a special feeling in the streets. There is a great sense of community that’s not like any other night.”
Bright Night is usually the biggest New Year’s Eve offering in the area. And it certainly is this year. Thanks to the recession, many communities, including Newport, Westerly and Fall River, have canceled their New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Gertsacov, however, sees a silver lining. “I encourage all those people from those communities to come to Bright Night,” he says.
You can see dozens of performances for just $15. But it’s not your only choice. There are parties, concerts and shows going on that aren’t part of Bright Night.
There’s also a “WaterFire.” The lighting celebrates the organization’s 15th anniversary, and supports Bright Night, which is in its seventh year.
“WaterFire” is putting on its event with a $16,000 anonymous donation. In the spirit of the season, it’s also sharing the money with Bright Night, which lost 75 percent of its city funding this year.
“We were in a hole. Now we’re in less of a hole. Depending on ticket sales, this could be our last Bright Night.”
The basin of WaterPlace Park will be lit from 5:30 to 10 p.m., while a dozen braziers at Memorial Park will burn past midnight. That should draw people downtown and bolster Bright Night, a festival of some 150 performers at 15 downtown venues, offering all forms of art: music and magic, puppetry and poetry, ice sculpture and storytelling, dance and improvisational theater.
“I really try to program something for everybody,” Gertsacov says.
Most of Bright Night’s budget comes from the sale of tickets, most of which will be sold Thursday, beginning at noon, at 155 Westminster St., and at the Rhode Island Convention Center on Sabin Street, site of the festival’s headline performer: David Garrity, a magician.
“[He] is a nice guy and that comes through in his performances,” Gertsacov says. “He has comedy in his act, but mostly jaw-dropping amazement.”
The show, called IllusionQuest, involves audience members disappearing and levitating, and sawing Garrity’s assistant in half, among other tricks. Performances are at 6, 8 and 10 p.m.
Garrity comes from East Hartford, which is actually far for this festival. Of the 150 performers, 95 percent live within an hour of Providence, according to Gertsacov. The lineup is a who’s who of notable local performers: storytellers Val Tutson, Mark Binder and Carolyn Martino; improv theater groups such as Improv Jones, Speed of Thought Players and the Trinity Zoo; and musicians Greg Abate, Keith Munslow and Bill Harley, a two-time Grammy Award winner.
“He’s one of the top children’s singers in the country,” says Gertsacov.
All the shows are indoors, although walking between venues you may encounter some impromptu performances. The Banished Fools, a group of roving musicians and makers of merriment and noise, will be out and about.
“They roam around town like a crazy band. They go in places and disrupt them. It’s just costumed craziness.”
Bright Night Providence tickets are $15 and available at 155 Westminster St., and at the R.I. Convention Center on Sabin Street. The event starts at 6 p.m. and runs past midnight at 15 downtown venues. For more information, including a schedule of events, visit brightnight.org.
Try a dinner-show and concert package
Not in the mood to roam? Here are some other options:
In Providence, the downtown Marriott at One Orms St. is giving revelers several ways to ring in the New Year, including a dinner-show and concert package. The reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 with a performance by Charlie Hall and the Ocean State Follies, followed by a concert by Steve Smith & The Nakeds at 9:45 p.m. Admission, which includes a room rental, is $329 per couple.
Another option is a four-course dinner without a show, followed by the concert. Admission for that is $150 per couple.
And the third option is attending just the concert, which is $30 per person. For reservations and more information, call (401) 272-2400.
Hear Gregg Allman, J Geils Band perform
Two rock legends and a legendary tribute will help you ring in the New Year.
Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers will be in concert at Twin River, 100 Twin River Rd., Lincoln, Thursday at 8:30 p.m., with doors opening at 7:30. The event is open to those 18 and older. For tickets, $40.50 to $50.50, visit twinriver.com.
The J. Geils Band, which began in Worcester in the ’60s and made it big with such songs as “Centerfold” and “Must of Got Lost,” is playing at Mohegan Sun, One Mohegan Sun Blvd., Uncasville, Conn., Thursday at 9 p.m. For tickets, $50, visit mohegansun.com.
And Foxwoods, 39 Norwich-Westerly Rd., Ledyard, Conn., is presenting the “Legends in Concert” show Thursday at 10:30 p.m. It’s a tribute show to Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jr., Liza Minnelli and The Temptations. Tickets are $25: foxwoods.com.
Ring in 2010 at Belcourt Castle
Belcourt Castle, 657 Bellevue Ave., Newport, presents a New Year’s Eve celebration, a fundraiser for the Royal Arts Foundation. There’s a dance from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. with Larry Brown’s Swinglane Orchestra. There will be appetizers, a chocolate buffet and an open bar. Admission is $95 per person. For reservations and more information, call (401) 846-0669.
Join ‘Venetian Masquerade’ and ‘WaterFire’
“WaterFire” is conducting a “Venetian Masquerade” at the Old Stone Bank, 86 South Main St., Providence. There will be Champagne and a buffet dinner, art exhibits and art performances: tenor Nathan Granner of the “Three American Tenors,” and Quixotic Fusion, an aerialist ensemble. Tickets are $250 to attend the event from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.; $500 to attend from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. For more information, visit waterfire.org.