The Mosquito Creates a Buzz
The Mosquito Story Slam’s Valentine’s Day edition, “What I Did for Love,” will take place at the Provincetown Theater (238 Bradford St.) on Saturday, Feb. 11. Vanessa Vartabedian co-hosts and produces the slams with William Mullin. She was inspired by the Moth story slams when she lived in Los Angeles. “I felt like this was a gap in our entertainment community here on the Outer Cape,” she says.
Upon entering, audience members who want to tell a story related to that night’s theme drop their names into the “mosquito net.” Ten names are chosen at random to “bite it live” on stage. Vartabedian says it can be hard to find 10 willing storytellers in an audience of 200.
But she’s learned to have faith in the process. “It’s always serendipitous; there’s always a throughline,” she says. “It’s magical, a collective buzz. The audience feels that magic, too.”
Vartabedian and Provincetown Theater Artistic Director David Drake decided to host the first Mosquito in the theater lobby to gauge interest. “The first show was sold out,” she recalls.
In 2016, the Mosquito expanded beyond the summer season. “I realized I could get this going year-round,” says Vartabedian. The stories are different in the off-season, she says: “The goal is to capture local stories,” and more of those are told in the off-season by residents who tend to be too busy in the summer to make it to the stage.
Vartabedian is also the executive director of Provincetown Community Television and works as an independent story coach. This summer, as she has in the past, she’ll be teaching a storytelling workshop at Castle Hill.
“I like to find shape and form and meaning in different interpretations of my own story,” she says. “Openness and curiosity are key to telling and listening to stories. I’m most inspired by connection with other people and by things that change my mind.”
Admission to the slam on Feb. 11 is $20; advance purchase is recommended. See mosquitostory.org for more information. —Sophie Mann-Shafir
Dancing With the Color of Love
The color red can represent many things: passion, anger, love, or danger. In the group exhibition “Red Dance” at Berta Walker Gallery (208 Bradford St., Provincetown), red is also used to unite different works of art spanning decades, mediums, and styles. There will be an opening reception for the exhibition on Saturday, Feb. 11 from 3 to 5 p.m., and the gallery will be open by appointment through February.
It’s enjoyable to walk around the show and see how the color moves between the works. Sometimes it dominates, as in Paul Resika’s large painting of three figures. Other times it’s used sparingly, as in Budd Hopkins’s geometric abstraction Mahler’s Castle, where the pure color activates an otherwise dark painting.
Unsurprisingly, this is a show with a lot of feelings. In Laura Shabott’s painting of a nude woman, red seems to pulsate from the figure, creating an erotic charge. The overall reddish atmosphere in Bob Henry’s Dance embodies the heat, energy, and movement of a crowd making music and dancing.
There’s also romantic sentiment throughout the show. In Lena Gurr’s painting of flowers on a windowsill, the delicate petals feel fragile, full of life and beauty in an otherwise linear and geometric environment. Nearby, the color and flatness of the red flower in Carl Sprinchorn’s painting of a vase echoes the background of the painting, creating a dynamic interplay between object and ground.
One of the most charming pictures in the show is a little painting by Polly Burnell. Here, a pink tulip pops into a landscape that looks like medieval Italy. It’s an interruption equal parts surprising, poetic, and intimate. May your Valentine’s Day be the same. —Abraham Storer
From One Roaring ’20s to Another
The Cape Symphony presents “The Roaring ’20s” on Saturday, Feb. 11 and Sunday, Feb. 12 at the Barnstable Performing Arts Center (744 West Main St., Hyannis).
The orchestra, directed by Jung-Ho Pak, will be joined by guest composers and conductors Drew Zaremba and Kyle Gordon for the Feb. 11 performance. “Drew and Kyle are so passionate about the Roaring ’20s,” says Pak in a statement. “They developed a high-energy variety show for orchestras about the age of speakeasies, the rise of Hollywood royalty, and the birth of jazz.”
Vocalist Tatiana “LadyMay” Mayfield will take audiences back to the golden age of Hollywood with a rendition of “It Had to Be You.” Dancers from the Adam in Chatham studio will perform the Charleston. The symphony will accompany two silent films by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton with new scores written by Gordon and Zaremba. And the stage itself will be transformed into a speakeasy.
Tickets are available at capesymphony.org or by calling the box office at 508-362-1111. Students ages 6 to 22 can go half-price. —Eve Samaha
Close Harmonies for the One You Love
Cynics might think of Feb. 14 as little more than a Hallmark holiday designed to sell greeting cards, industrially grown flower arrangements, and mass-produced boxes of candy. (Cue a steely-eyed Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve declaring “I detest cheap sentiment.”) But a decade-old tradition on Cape Cod shows that there are still creative and personal ways to express those tender feelings for the one who makes your heart skip a beat.
The Cape Cod Surftones offer singing Valentines — performed by a traditional barbershop quartet — on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The serenades are delivered with an opportunity for a personal photo with the group along with the requisite red rose, card, and box of chocolates, and are available anywhere on the Cape from Provincetown to Bourne. Prices range from $50 to $75 and depend on the timing, with the higher prices guaranteeing delivery within a 15-minute slot.
Eastham resident Brian Eastman, who has been a member of the Surftones for 30 years and president for the last two, says that the group has been offering the Valentines for “at least 10 years or so,” save for the last two years due to pandemic restrictions.
“We handle all the logistics,” says Eastman, “like whether we need permission to deliver to a particular workplace like a school. We can also arrange to deliver on different days. Whatever works for people, we’ll do our best to make it happen.”
Eastman says that two quartets, drawn from the larger Surftones ensemble of 32 singers, will be traveling up and down the Cape on Valentine’s Day to deliver the greetings. Backup singers will also be on call to help handle emergencies.
“It seems to make people happy,” says Eastman. “It’s a real kick to get serenaded. We enjoy doing it.”
See capecodsurftones.com/love to order a singing Valentine, or call the Surftones Valentine hotline at 508-470-1070. —John D’Addario