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Author Tom Craughwell in West Hartford, Simsbury Community Band and More

Enrich your life, July 14 – 20, 2011

Author Tom Craughwell at Noah Webster Library

Author Tom Craughwell discusses his most recent book, The Greatest Brigade: How the Irish Brigade Cleared the Way to Victory in the American Civil War, on July 21 at the Noah Webster Library in West Hartford. The event is sponsored by the Noah Webster House. Craughwell's Greatest Brigade chronicles the triumphs and losses of the Irish Brigade in the Civil War. This specialized unit played a key role in many major battles including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and Appomattox. The brigade wasn't decommissioned until World War I. 

The talk begins at 7 p.m. at the Noah Webster Library, 20 South Main Street, West Hartford. Admission is free, but registration is required. For more information, visit www.noahwebsterhouse.org.

Playhouse Prepares to Razzle Dazzle 'Em

Fame, fortune and all that jazz take the stage at West Hartford's Playhouse on Park where a production of Chicago begins performances July 14. Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the story pivots on two murderesses, Roxy Hart and Velma Kelly, who use their notoriety in a quest for fame and fortune. The show features music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb with hits including All That Jazz, Razzle Dazzle, Mr. Cellophane, and the show-stopping ventriloquist number We Both Reached for the Gun. The Playhouse production is directed by Darlene Zoller with musical direction by Colin Britt.

Performances run on select dates between July 14 and July 24. The show is open to adults only. All seats are $20 except for July 21, which marks a celebration of the second anniversary of the Playhouse. Seats for that performance, which includes a post-show reception, are $50. Playhouse on Park is at 244 Park Road, West Hartford. For more information, visit www.playhouseonpark.org or call 860-523-5900 x10.

Civil War Workshops at Farmington's Stanley-Whitman

What was it like to fight in the Civil War? Farmington's Stanley-Whitman House offers a series of workshops designed to examine various aspects of the conflict — from the flags created for both sides to the uniforms worn by soldiers to the medicines used to treat the wounded. The workshops are geared for adults and children age 13 and older. Participants may sign up for as many workshops as they choose. Each runs from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m on the designated day. The schedule is as follows: 

August 8 – Remnants of the Past – From Diaries to Flags

August 9 – Outfitting Soldiers: Uniforms of Enlisted Men & Officers, North and South

Aug. 10 – Military Life and Battlefields 

August 11 – Medicine During the Civil War

August 12 – Changing Lifestyles of Men, Women and Children, North and South

Workshop fees are $20 per person; $18 members. Registration is required. The Stanley-Whitman House is at 37 High St., Farmington. For more information, visit www.stanleywhitman.org or call 860-677-9222.

A Summer Concert by the Simsbury Community Band

The Simsbury Community Band performs a free concert July 20 at the Simsbury Farms Hockey Arena. The 60-member ensemble plays under the direction of Ertan Sener.

Concert time is 7 p.m. at the Simsbury Farms Hockey Arena, 100 Old Farms Road, West Simsbury. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.simsburyband.org or call 860-658-3836.

Despicable Me – Freein Canton

What happens when a criminal mastermind uses three orphans as pawns in a grand scheme? They melt his heart, of course. Watch the animated family movie for free when Canton's Shoppes at Farmington Valley screens Despicable Me for free on July 16. Pre-show entertainment by the Fly by Night Jugglers.

The pre-show runs from 6 to 8 p.m. The free screening begins at dusk in the main parking area near the barn. The Shoppes at Farmington Valley are at 110 Albany Turnpike, Canton. For more information, visit www.theshoppesatfarmingtonvalley.com or call 860-693-3059.

Vertical Flight, LifeStar at Air Museum

Up, up and away — make that straight up — at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks where a week of special events explores the wonders of vertical flight. Starting July 18, programs include an examination of how helicopters affect our daily lives — from traffic and news reports to life-saving abilities. Life Star Helicopter is due to land July 20 at 1 p.m. (The time may change if there is an emergency requiring its services.) On July 22, Peter Mack, a member of the United Technologies flight team of fixed wing/rotary wing pilots visits the museum from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Additional programs include Build & Fly Challenges involving kites, parachutes, and straw gliders. Cockpit tours, model flight demonstrations, and flight simulators are also included in the week's activities.

Programs run daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The New England Air Museum is at 36 Perimeter Road, Windsor Locks. For more information, visit www.neam.org or call 860-623-3305

Red Riding Hood, On Screen in Suffield

What's on screen for free this week at Suffield's Kent Memorial Library? The July 14 matinee is Catherine Hardwicke's 2011 fantasy horror film Red Riding Hood, starring Amanda Seyfried and Lukas Haas. The promising supporting cast includes Gary Oldman and Julie Christie. Screening time is 2 p.m. The film is rated PG-13. On July 15, Liam Neeson stars in Unknown as a man who wakes from a coma only to discover his identity has been stolen. The sterling supporting cast features Aidan Quinn, Frank Langella, and Diane Kruger. Screening time is 2 p.m. The film is rated PG-13. 

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

Folk on Fridays at Cheney Hall

Folk music fans, July 15 brings another Folk on Fridays open mic to Cheney Hall in Manchester. Musicians are invited to sign up at 6:30 p.m. for a 10-minute slot. The music starts at 7 p.m. 

Admission is free, but contributions are welcome. For more information, visit www.cheneyhall.org or call 860-647-9824. Cheney Hall is at 177 Hartford Road, Manchester.

HSO Presents King of Pop Concert at Simsbury Meadows

ABC, Beat It, Billie Jean, Man in the Mirror ... Are your feet doing a dance under the desk already? You'll be welcome to dance on the lawn at Simsbury Meadows in Simsbury when the Hartford Symphony Orchestra presents The Music of Michael Jackson, a July 15 concert that is part of the Talcott Mountain Music Festival. Guest vocalist James Delisco will bring Jackson's tunes to life under the direction of guest conductor and arranger Brent Havens.

Pack a blanket and a picnic. Gates open at 6 p.m. Concert time is 7:30 p.m. A variety of seating options are available — from lawn to table arrangements. Ticket prices range from $20 to $45. (Lawn tickets for kids 12 and under are $5.) For reservations and more information, visit www.hartfordsymphony.org or call 860-244-2999. The Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows is at 22 Iron Horse Boulevard, Simsbury. This concert will be performed rain or shine.

Tides of Provincetown at New Britain Museum

Over generations, Cape Cod's northernmost point, Provincetown, has exerted a powerful pull on artists. The town's legacy as an art colony and inspiration is celebrated and explored in The Tides of Provincetown: Pivotal Years in America's Oldest Continuous Art Colony, an exhibition opening July 15 at the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain. Considered the largest and most comprehensive survey of the art colony in over 40 years, Tides and the show's accompanying catalog cover over 100 artists — from Charles W. Hawthorne's founding of the Cape Cod School of Art in 1899 to the present day. It includes works by or references to artists including Hans Hofmann and Robert Motherwell who lived and worked in P'town for years, and major figures of the 20th century such as Willem de Kooning, Charles Demuth, and Mark Rothko who passed through. 

Tides of Provincetown runs July 15 through October 16. An opening reception is scheduled for July 17 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The New Britain Museum of American Art is at 56 Lexington St., New Britain. For more information, visit www.nbmaa.org or call 860-229-0257.

Fire & Ice at Sturbridge Village

Old-fashioned firefighting methods and equipment are explored on July 16 when Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, presents "Fire & Ice." Bucket brigades, antique fire trucks, and hand pumps figure in along with vintage ice cream making and a chili contest in which area restaurants compete. Firefighters receive 50 percent off admission.

Old Sturbridge Village is at 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, Mass. For more information, visit www.osv.org or call 800-SEE-1830.

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