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The mentor

Kudos to Bill Hutchinson; party patter; farewell to a jazz giant
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  December 24, 2013

Last Sunday, your superior correspondents were at Nick-a-Nee’s for the raucous “Bedtime Revue” Christmas show, featuring a stellar array of young talent, including the Harley Brothers, John F. Birt, and a host of others. John had invited Jorge to participate as “drunk Santa” (which he was only too happy to do) and it was a very fun and unique evening.

As we entered the room we noticed P. William Hutchinson, the esteemed RIC professor emeritus, sitting at a front table, which reminded us about an honor that recently came his way that we neglected to note.

If you are even slightly involved in the world of theater here in the Biggest Little, you know who Bill Hutchinson is. From 1968 until his retirement in 2004, he was a mainstay of the marvelous Rhode Island College Theatre program; he served as professor of theater, managing director of the theater, and chair of the department of music, theater, and dance.

More importantly, Bill has been a mentor to some of the most talented artists to come out of RI, including Academy Award-nominated actress Viola Davis, director Jimmy Calitri, and many others. Bill is also know for his own acting, specializing in portraying American historical characters such as Roger Williams, Edgar Allan Poe, and Thomas Jefferson.

In October, Hutchinson was honored by the New England Theater Conference with the 2013 Leonidas A. Nickole Educator of the Year Award (named for the former head of musical theater at Emerson College) and there couldn’t be a more deserving honoree. According to the folks at RIC, Hutchinson has recently been concentrating on collecting alumni materials for the Adams Library’s archives and staying in touch with his former students all over the world.

So, three cheers for Bill Hutchinson, a still-vital force in the arts whose influence reaches far beyond the borders of our little state.


Emerging Artist news

P&J frequently gather our information the old-fashioned way: by showing up at holiday parties and quizzing the merrymakers. The annual Murph/Dean holiday party took place last weekend, giving us an opportunity to check in with many of the social activist/traditional folk music community who are always in attendance (Jane Murphy is one of the founders of Stone Soup Coffeehouse, and almost everybody stops by bringing in tons of food and good cheer).

Besides the incredibly exciting news that Marc (the noted international storyteller and main force behind AS220’s Action Speaks! series) and Viera Levitt are soon to be parents of twins, we found out that James Shelton, the son of Henry and Carol Shelton (and if you don’t know who they are, shame on you), is working on his first film, a short work titled The Attic.

James says it’s about “how we push those we love, about nudity and our relationship with our bodies, and about what it means to be an artist.” The film stars James and Kimi Rich and features music from Romen Rok, Moe Pope & Rain and Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons. It will be screened at AS220’s 95 Empire space on Sunday, December 29 at 7 pm.

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