Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hardwick's Front Porch

Earlier in the month, my husband and I were looking for a weekend outing and came across a performance of Northern Lights at the Cultural Center at Eagle Hill.

First of all, if you like bluegrass, roots music, rock, and soul, Northern Lights is a regional band you don't want to miss -- it was the perfect remedy to mid-winter blues. Next time I see them, though, I'm going to need a dance floor -- their music is absolutely dance-worthy....

The Cultural Center at Eagle Hill was the find of the evening, however. The beautiful new building set into the Eagle Hill School Campus in Hardwick is a venue for the arts in Central Massachusetts. It has a lovely 460-seat theatre (where we saw the band), art exhibition space, function halls, classrooms, and more that we didn't get to see because of the weather (an outdoor patio & amphitheater, for example). It's clean and bright, with a coat room and wide hallways and decorated walls and big bathrooms (very important). Students from the school are involved with every part of the Center, from publicity to performances to budgeting and more -- they are also learning to run the box office.

When the performance we attended was being introduced, the director took a few minutes to talk about the school and the Center. He mentioned that he wanted the Center to be "Hardwick's front porch" -- a place where people could meet and gather to share food, entertainment, and conversation. And that's exactly what it was -- we didn't just have the opportunity to listen to fine music, but we enjoyed a cafe and good conversation with the people sitting around us in the theater (including two local library connections I was able to make!).

We are looking forward to returning to the Center for another performance, perhaps Solas or The Fantastiks, or maybe something a little further down the road. Prices are reasonable and quality is good.
For a nice evening out, pair a live performance at The Center with a tasty New England dinner at the Salem Cross Inn (West Brookfield). (In fact, there's a special package for dinner & a show for the upcoming musical The Fantastiks.)

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