The music didn't stop: How Big Green arts played out

by Rebecca Leffler | 6/13/04 5:00am

We're known for our beautiful foliage, our great winter sports and our crazy keg parties. But Hanover, N.H. is actually a cultural mecca, boasting some of the finest arts in the country. Each year, big-name bands and world-renowned performers pay a visit to our Big Green Bubble, and students display their many artistic talents.

From 2000 to 2004, the arts at Dartmouth flourished and Hanover witnessed some unforgettable performances. As Bennifer came, saw and conquered the tabloids, as Hilary and Avril kicked Britney and Christina off the red carpet and Reality TV took the nation by storm, Dartmouth was in the midst of a rising arts culture.

The Hopkins Center Film Series give quality independent and world cinema a home in the hills of New Hampshire, and often bring Hollywood blockbusters to campus before they hit theaters.

In the winter of 2001, Ben Harper burned one concert down at Dartmouth and, along with his band The Innocent Criminals, brought an eclectic blend of reggae, rock and country music to the sold-out crowd.

Also in the winter of 2001, Jurassic 5 brought their "quality control" to Leede Arena and entertained an enthusiastic crowd of students with their freestyling talents and rhythmic coordination.

Fall of 2001 saw the Counting Crows fly into Hanover, but many Dartmouth students were disappointed by their performance, which included few old hits and advertised new, unknown songs from their most recent album. Though the Crows did play crowd-pleasers "Rain King" and "Mr. Jones," their Dartmouth appearance turned out to be a disappointment for many of the band's fans.

In the winter of 2002, Busta Rhymes brought his "Genesis" tour to Dartmouth and, with Spliff Star by his side, turned up the heat in Leede Arena. Naughty By Nature opened for Busta and brought a little old-school hip-hop flavah into the mix. While the quaint New England town of Hanover might not seem like a center of hip-hop culture, Busta was a hit and even expressed appreciation for his devoted Dartmouth audience.

"Most of the core element of hip-hop support is big schools the young minds, the fresh minds, the open minds people that can really appreciate the sh*t you doing," Rhymes said.

In the spring of 2002, Guster performed a 16-song set during their sold-out show. Front man Ryan Miller even brought a little bit of humor into the mix, which made for a wonderfully entertaining performance.

O.A.R. made time between their crazy games of poker to come to Hanover in November of 2003, and Maroon 5 took time off from MTV and screaming teenage fans to play at Dartmouth earlier this spring.

In the fall of 2001, Grammy-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and his jazz septet played in Spaulding Auditorium. This visit marked Marsalis' second visit to the Dartmouth campus, and Marsalis was once again welcomed with open arms (and a sold-out performance).

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones made the trip to Hanover in the winter of 2002. After their sold-out show in Spaulding Auditorium, the Flecktones sat on the front of the stage for 45 minutes talking to fans and didn't leave until each student who was waiting got an autograph and a handshake.

Dartmouth has also hosted a range of well-known comedians. In March 2003, Comedy Central's star Lewis Black entertained audiences with his harsh criticism and hilarious musings on life. Black, famous for his weekly segments on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show," shocked and awed his audience into laughter.

This spring, Tracy Morgan made the journey from Hollywood to Hanover, bringing his humor to the stage of Spaulding auditorium. Morgan's performance, however, was anything but PG and his shocking sexual exploits offended many audience members.

And one cannot neglect to mention Sean Penn's visit to campus in the spring of 2001 to accept the Dartmouth Film Award. This year's recipient of the award, Budd Schulberg '36, spent hours talking about his Dartmouth experiences and screenwriting career with eager students.

Speaking of cinema, each year Bill Pence brings the Telluride Film Festival to Hanover, allowing members of the Dartmouth community access to films that would otherwise take months or years to be released. This year, critically-acclaimed films such as "Dogville" and "Girl with a Pearl Earring" came to Hanover even before premiering in New York City or Los Angeles.

But who needs all these outside sources of entertainment when Dartmouth's own artistic students never cease to amaze audiences?

Each year, the Chamber Singers, the Glee Club, the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra, the Gospel Choir, the Dance Ensemble and the Dartmouth Wind Symphony showcase their talents for the Dartmouth community.

And move over Broadway, because Dartmouth's talented actors have produced some incredible spectacles over the past four years.

During the freshman year of this year's 2004 class, "Sheep's Milk on the Boil," "Into the Woods" and "Miss Divina Rose" were among some of the theatrical highlights.

In May of 2002, Kris Thorgeirsson directed his senior fellowship project "Egil's Saga," his adaptation of "Egil's Saga, Depictions of a Viking Poet." Starring Ben Weaver '03, Ivan Grant '04, Caitlin McNally '03, Katia Asche '04 and Caz Liske '04 among others, the play featured nonlinear episodes pieced together.

The Frost Festival One-Act plays were also especially memorable that year, as "Bizarre Kitchen Scenes" wowed audiences (including Henry Gummer '02's mother, Meryl Streep).

Last year, innovative play "Machinal," put on by Mariah May '04, took Dartmouth audiences by storm when it was performed in a tiny hallway on the second floor of Bradley. Written in 1928, Sophie Treadwell's "Machinal" is a play about a young woman (played to perfection by Sarah Sirota '04) whose wonderful life takes a turn for the worst. The wonderful ensemble cast brought the drab, sterile set to life and gave an unforgettable performance.

This past fall, Dartmouth students performed Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge," directed by Jackson Gay. This was certainly one of the best performances put on here during the last four years, and showcased the talents of some of Dartmouth's finest performers including '04s Cliff Campbell, Jonathan Smolian and Katia Asche. Campbell provided comic relief as Italian macho man Marco, and Asche transformed herself into Eddie's husband, Beatrice.

Last winter, Sarah Sirota '04 and Campbell '04 starred in and directed their senior project, "Laughing Wild," which was a huge success among fellow students and community members and allowed Sirota and Campbell to display their mastery of both comedy and drama.

This spring, mainstage musical "The Apple Tree" took the stage and the term finished off with the entertaining Harlequins performance of "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown." The Frost Festival also once again showcased the myriad talents of Dartmouth actors and directors.

Oh, what a long, strange and definitely entertaining trip it's been.

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