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Dana Pomfret, Connecticut Book Festival and More

Enrich your life, May 19 - 25, 2011

Dana Pomfret Quartet at Arts Center

Avon's Farmington Valley Arts Center welcomes singer-songwriter Dana Pomfret and her quartet for a May 21 show. Pomfret has recorded for Elektra, SBK and Warner Bros. Records and has released four albums of original music, Talk, Soul Collage, realtime, and Tracks. Playing alongside her will be Stefani Langol, keyboards and vocals; Jerry Martinez, guitar and vocals; and Jon Peckman, drums and percussion. 

Concert time is 7:30 p.m. in the Fisher Gallery at 25 Arts Center Lane, Avon. Tickets cost $15 at the door. For more information, visit www.artsfvac.org or call 860-678-1867.

Connecticut Book Festival

Best-selling author Wally Lamb headlines this year's Connecticut Book Festival, a weekend-long event unfolding May 21 and 22 at the Greater Hartford campus of the University of Connecticut. Readings, panel discussions, book signings, storytelling, and performances are on schedule from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. Lamb is scheduled to speak Saturday at 3 p.m. in the auditorium of the Library building. 

For a complete schedule of events, visit www.ctbookfestival.org or phone 860-704-2214. The UConn Greater Hartford campus is at 85 Lawler Road, West Hartford.

Cabaret Night at Playhouse 

Sing On! The [Carolyn/Hillary] Effect brings Carolyn Cumming and Hillary Ekwall to the stage at West Hartford's Playhouse on Park. The one-night-only cabaret is a benefit for the Playhouse, "our way of saying 'thank you'" for career support, say the singers. Dawn Loveland directs the show with musical direction and accompaniment by Kevin Barlowski.

Concert date is May 23. Curtain time is 7 p.m. Suggested donation, $10 per ticket. A reception follows the performance. Playhouse on Park is at 244 Park Road, West Hartford. For more information, visit www.playhouseonpark.org or call 860-523-5900 x10.

Mental Health Reform in Spotlight at Canton Public Library

Years working in deplorable conditions in a New York mental hospital inspired Lou Strum to write her memoir Gone But Not Forgotten. On May 19, Strum visits Canton Public Library where she will discuss her book and her years as an employee at Willard State Hospital, a facility in upstate New York that has since been closed. Strum's book originally was published in 1973 under the title The Mental Health Nightmare. Sturm speaks out about what she experienced in the hope of galvanizing change.

The free event begins at 7 p.m. Registration is requested. Phone 860-693-5800. Canton Public Library is at 40 Dyer Ave., Canton.

Dinner and Auction at Hill-Stead Benefit

Sunset views, cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, gourmet dining, and an auction are all part of the festivities when Farmington's Hill-Stead Museum hosts its 19th annual Dinner Auction. The May 26 event is held at the museum. Auction items this year include island getaways, art and antiques treasures, entertaining packages, fine wines, and more.

The event begins at 6 p.m. For information and sponsorship opportunities, contact Becky Trutter at trutterb@hillstead.org or call 860-677-4787 ext. 132.

Elizabeth Taylor Double-Header and More in Suffield

What free flix are on offer this week at Suffield's Kent Memorial Library? Mark your calendars for Casino Jack on May 20. The 2010 biographical comedy stars Kevin Spacey as lobbyist Jack Abramoff. George Hinkenlooper directs. Screening time is 2 p.m. On May 24, it's the late, great Elizabeth Taylor in the Oscar-winning 1963 historical drama Cleopatra. Richard Burton co-stars as Mark Antony. Matinee time is 2 p.m. On May 25, Liz and Dick are back, this time as the mutually antagonistic married couple in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Director Mike Nichols' Oscar-sweeping 1966 drama also features Sandy Dennis and George Segal. Screening time is 2 p.m. On May 25 at 6:30 p.m., the screen lights up with festival favorite How I Ended This Summer, a 2010 indie from Russian director Aleksei Popogrebsky. Set at a polar station on a desolate island in the Arctic Ocean, it has been called "a majestic drama. A terrific exploration of human frailty."

All screenings are free. No registration is required. No food and drink is allowed. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Kent Memorial Library is at 50 North Main St., Suffield. For more information, visit www.suffield-library.org or call 860-668-3896

A Musical Reunion at Roaring Brook

On May 22, Canton's Roaring Brook Nature Center hosts a Canton High School reunion of sorts. Singer-songwriter William Florian, class of 1971, who is returning to town for his real high school reunion, stays long enough to play a gig presented by Roaring Brook Concerts. Joining Florian on stage is best friend, bassist, and class of '71 buddy Woody Andrews. When Florian is not visiting his old stomping ground, he lives in California and performs a member of the New Christy Minstrels. He also maintains a solo career. His CDs include Just for You, Past & Present, and Counting on You.

Concert time is 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15 at the door; $12 members. Roaring Brook Nature Center is at 70 Gracey Road, Canton. Visit www.roaringbrookconcerts.org.

Poetry at Cinestudio

Winner of the best screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival, the South Korean film Poetry arrives this week at Cinestudio in Hartford. Yun Jung-hee, a star of Korean cinema in the 1960s and '70s, makes a triumphant return to the screen playing the role of a seemingly ordinary grandmother who has been beaten down by life. She signs up for a poetry class at a local cultural center, and when her teacher asks her not only to write a poem but to rethink the way she experiences life, her spirit reawakens. Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe writes, "Sometimes you don't fully appreciate what a movie's doing to your heart until it's been shattered." 

Poetry runs through May 25. For screening times and ticket prices, visit www.cinestudio.org. Cinestudio is on the campus of Trinity College, 300 Summit St., Hartford.

West Side Story at Bushnell

Tonight, tonight, won't be just any night . . . Not if you're lucky enough to get tickets to the touring production of the Broadway revival of West Side Story, which arrives this week in Hartford. The production features Tony Award-winning librettist Arthur Laurents' Broadway direction recreated by David Saint; the original choreography of Jerome Robbins, recreated by Joey McNeeley; a cast including Kyle Harris as Tony, Ali Ewoldt as Maria, Michelle Aravena as Anita, and Joseph Simeone as Riff; and, last but not least, one of the greatest musical scores of all time with Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim tunes including Tonight, Something's Coming, America, I Feel Pretty and Somewhere.

Performances are May 24 to 29 at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. Ticket prices start at $17. Visit www.bushnell.org or call 860-987-5900.

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