Like Lowell

Local Theater Groups and Upcoming Productions

If you’re in need of an escape from reality, Lowell’s various theater groups have upcoming productions that can do just that.  From plays that embody the relationship between two dissimilar family members, to festivals that celebrate females in film, these productions are ready to let you flee from your daily responsibilities.

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Merrimack Repertory Theater

MRT remains true to their mission statement to “share theatrical stories of human understanding that reflect and engage community” for 40 years. Under the direction of Artistic Director Sean Daniels and Executive Director Bonnie J. Butkas, MRT allows their audience an opportunity to be so much more than a spectator in the crowd. They get their audiences to experience the play so deeply it feels as if they’re on the stage themselves.

With the brand new month comes a brand new play for people to enjoy opens February 13th and runs to March 10th.  The World Premiere of “The Heath” by Lauren Gunderson will bring you into the world of family members with dissenting personalities, yet their differences are what makes their relationship that much more beautiful.

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Image Theater

Image Theater was formed in 2005 as a non-profit theater company.  In the nearly 15 years the company has been around, they have made quite a name for themselves as they do so much for local writers, playwrights, novelists, and filmmakers.  Founders Jerry Bisantz and Ann Garvin have worked with gifted producers in order to produce their fan-favorite “Keep Your Kids at Home” naughty readings; “Mill City Minutes” ten minute plays; and the full length play “Kerouac’s Last Call”. 

Garvin had humbly noted that Image Theater is a “little homeless theater company” as the group does not have one set home stage, however numerous Lowell companies have welcomed their productions with open arms.  You can find Image Theater’s productions at popular Lowell destinations such as The Old Court Pub, The Whistler House Museum of Art, and The Lowell Freshman Academy.  The company will take an interesting spin on Garvin’s “Femnoire: The Women’s Playwriting Festival” to create the “Femme Film Fest”, which will feature short films by women filmmakers from all over New England on May 3rd and 4th.  Shortly following “Femme Film Fest”, the company will also produce some “one-acts” between May and November.  Image Theater rarely follows a “set season”, but you can keep updated about exciting upcoming productions at www.imagetheater.com

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Studio 506

Only a short 5 years after Studio 506’s founding in 2014, what started with a few friends keeping the love of theater alive turned into a successful theater group in Lowell.  Founder Kaitlyn Crockett hopes that Studio 506 sheds the “stigma” around what it means to be a community theater group.  Instead, the company calls themselves an “Indie Theater Company” as they perform shows in creatively unorthodox ways to get the surrounding community connected to their shows.  The group has had success with past productions. Some were performed in the center of a Lowell garden with the audience just inches away from the actors. 

In March, Studio 506 will bring something new to the table with, “Revolt.  She Said.  Revolt Again”, a production written by Alice Birch and directed by Kaitlyn Crockett.  “Revolt” will be performed at the Humanity Boutique, and it will discuss sex and gender in a way that “does not behave”.  Don’t miss this rendition of a play that doesn’t play by the rules by a Lowell group that throws the concept of “ordinary” to the wind. 

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Balefire Theater Group

Similar to Studio 506, Balefire Theater is a recently created theater group (founded in May 2016), that wants to give their audience members a different theater experience.  Past productions, such as “Sherlock Holmes: ‘A Study in Scarlet’”, involved audience members surrounding the action of the play while they are served dinner and drink.  Balefire Theater recently began to adopt this production method of “Dinner Theater” in August of 2017, that allows audiences to enjoy the theater with their eyes- and their stomachs. 

The next opportunity to please your palate will take place from March 21st-24th for the company’s upcoming production of “Waiting for Godot”.  This play takes place in a post-World War II, and explores the awaiting of the mysterious “Godot” through the eyes of the two main characters.  The play is a wonderful mix of history, humor, and the human experience that will serve warmth to your heart with a fresh side of laughter. 

Photography by: Kate Brindley Photography

Photography by: Kate Brindley Photography


Off-Broadway Players

For locals who are wondering what UMass Lowell students bring to the stage, a Spring production called “Triptych” is currently in the works.  President of the Off-Broadway Players club, Daisy Var, had done a wonderful job of relaying information about all things “OBP” in 2019, but her “lips are sealed” in terms of news for their fall production.  However, there are 6 opportunities for folks to view Triptych from February 27th-March 3rd.  The production will include original pieces that were written by the club’s advisor, Dr. Dale J. Young.  Check out how these UMass Lowell students will bring this new creation to life! 

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Destination Lowell - A Showcase of Lowell's Best

The 31st annual Lowell Folk Festival will bring the best of traditional music, food and crafts for all to enjoy.  This year’s Destination Lowell will offer visitors a more engaging, interactive experience by transforming Merrimack Street into hubs of activity, entertainment, outdoor sports and local vendors. We hope that festival visitors will soon discover why There's a Lot to Like about Lowell! Here are some things to look forward to.

1.  Art, Culture and Heritage

Located at the entrance of Destination Lowell between Shattuck Street and Palmer Street, the Art, Culture and Heritage area will feature a dozen local organizations offering information, giveaways and more!  Lowell Celebrates Kerouac, Western Avenue Studios and Merrimack Repertory Theater are some of this year’s participants.  Come experience Lowell’s rich and vibrant cultural scene!

2. Outdoor Fun, Sports and Recreation

As you walk further down Merrimack Street, you will see Destination Lowell’s first of three activation areas.  This area creates the perfect setting for outdoor recreation and sports organizations to promote themselves, while engaging attendees through interactive activities involving crafts, games, music, sports and fitness.  For those who love competition, this is the hub for you! Destination Lowell will provide giant outdoor games such as cornhole, checkers and jenga for all ages to enjoy while listening to some beautiful folk music in Downtown Lowell’s historic setting. 

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3. Events and Happenings

Once you’ve experienced the fun and entertaining activities at the recreation area, continue strolling down Merrimack Street to the next area that Destination Lowell has set up for you.  There are plenty of things to do at the events and happenings hub, located between Kirk and John Street. This area creates spaces for local companies like Made in Lowell, DIY Lowell, Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race and the Puerto Rican Festival to promote upcoming events and provide information on ways to get involved. 

Derek Soohoo Pottery

Derek Soohoo Pottery

4. Lifestyle

The last area is the lifestyle hub.  This area will serve as a great way for participants to stay relax and unwind as Destination Lowell partners with Mill No. 5 to promote a healthy lifestyle. The Red Apothecary and Derek’s SooHoo Pottery are some of the local businesses that will have exhibits and demonstrations for all to enjoy!

 

Come check what this year’s Destination Lowell has to offer and experience for yourself why people believe Lowell is the number one festival city, as it continues to host the largest free folk festival in the United States! The Lowell Folk Festival seeks to present the finest traditional music, dance, crafts, ethnic food and cultural treasures that make up Lowell’s diverse community.   This is a free event.  For more information visit: http://lowellfolkfestival.org/

The Mill Yard: Lowell's New Outdoor Hotspot

Looking for the perfect way to celebrate the end of a long week?  Well, we have just the event that will get you outdoors and keep you entertained for hours!  Friday Nights is returning to The Mill Yard with delicious food, beautiful art, music and a beer garden for all to enjoy. 

1. Friday Nights and The Mill Yard Grand Opening

While Friday Nights, sponsored by Made in Lowell, has been an ongoing event, this week’s festivity is going to be something you will not want to miss!  With food trucks, local vendors and live entertainment, it’s the perfect setting for family and friends to enjoy this social event at a beautiful venue surrounded by mills and canal ways.  Friday Nights begins at 5 pm, with the grand opening of The Mill Yard starting at 6.

In addition to Made in Lowell’s monthly Friday Nights celebrations The Mill Yard venue will serve as a prime outdoor location aimed at enhancing community engagement, offer space for entertainment, showcase local musicians and expand the city’s collaboration with food trucks.

The Mill Yard will provide the perfect setting for families, friends and foot-truck aficionados and will be available to host a variety of artisan markets and private functions.  Come celebrate Lowell’s first ever community food truck park at the grand opening event tonight at 6 pm!

2. Art is in the Air

If you want a break from all the excitement at The Mill Yard, there is a lot to do in the surrounding area that will keep you entertained.  The Mill Yard’s location is within sight of some cool public art.   “Veils of Color,” created by artist Barbara Poole, fills the windows of a former mill wall with brightly dyed panels of fabric representing the dyes that used to be dumped in the canal when the Appleton Mills Dye House was operating.  Nearby a pop up art park has been created from concrete blocks and jersey barriers, part of the City’s effort’s to creatively transform construction and security materials.  When not being used for Folk Festival and other street closing security, they will be on display in the park, located across the Lower Pawtucket Canal in the Hamilton Canal District.

3. Mill NO. 5 and its many amenities just a footstep away

Photo: millno5.com

Photo: millno5.com

The fantastic thing about The Mill Yard is its centrally located right across the street from Lowell’s vibrant Mill No. 5.  The quaint shops and weekly farm market in this renovated mill building are open all week long.  Mill No. 5’s Luna Theater is always showcasing films and shows, with an upcoming comedy movie Band Aid this Friday night starting at 7:35pm.  By expanding the use of The Mill Yard and making it an urban oasis for current and future district residents and businesses, local shops will be busier than ever! 

4. The Breathtaking Western Avenue Studios

If you’re an art lover looking for something to do after grabbing a bite at Lowell’s new food truck park at The Mill Yard, the Western Avenue Studios located just around the corner is where art comes alive.  The space has over 300 artists and 250 studio spaces for local artists and provides exquisite art for the public to see.  The Western Avenue Studio is home to the largest artist’s community on the eastern seaboard of the U.S.  The studio has art classes and art exhibits year round.  The current Gallery show is The Cultural Artbeat which runs through July 30th. 

 

ART CREATED FROM CONCRETE AND METAL

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[LOWELL, MA] - When the Lowell Folk Festival returns to downtown Lowell July 28-30th, visitors will enter festival areas past security blocks and barriers that have been transformed into works of art. The Cultural Affairs and Special Events Office (CASE) has teamed up with local artists to create public art from chunks of concrete as a creative approach to brighten the entries to the festival. 

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Eighteen security blocks are being painted by artists Mary Hart, Alexandra Derderian and Ioana Singureanu. CASE provided funding for stipends and materials.

“With the City of Lowell owing much of its multi-cultural heritage to its immigrants, each pattern I selected is meant to honor individual immigrant groups without being too specific about the inspiration,” said artist Ioana Singureanu. “I'm happy to participate in this project and I hope other cities follow Lowell's example of creative integration of safety and art.” 

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In addition to the concrete cubes, twelve jersey barriers will be painted by artist Bret Weese. 

“When you give the public something to look at, the way they interact with each other changes, making the community stronger,” said Weese. “If my work is to be defined, I would say it is inspired by the graffuturism movement, which is a more modern and contemporary fusing of abstract expressionism and graffiti.”  

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“We are delighted to engage our local artists to create works of art out of basic construction blocks and in so doing, change perceptions about our safety measures,” said City Manager Kevin Murphy. “We look forward to continuing this program and to using these blocks to create a temporary art park when they are not in use for events.”

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In addition, a metal storage container, placed in The Mill Yard in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District, will receive an artistic treatment.  The painted container will be used for events equipment storage for Mill Yard events such as Friday Nights, enhancing the area and serving as another piece of public art.

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Where to Catch Scenic Views of Lowell

Lowell is a city with unique historic and contemporary features. Located on the Merrimack River, the city developed as an industrial center in the nineteenth century and many of the mills and canals that were built over the years are still standing today.
                                                                                                      
Lowell's combination of natural and built environments creates dramatic vistas throughout the city.  Sightseers have many vantage points from which to survey the city.  This is a sampler of these vantage points for viewing the city, whether for an Instagram post, personal observation or as part of an activity.

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1. Merrimack River Behind LeLacheur Park

LeLacheur Park is home to the Lowell Spinners, the Class-A, short season affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, as well as the UMass Lowell River Hawks baseball team.  Behind the stadium is a riverwalk extending through UMass Lowell's East Campus.  The trees obscure this particular view slightly until a clearing opens up and a sandy beach is revealed.
 
This beach offers a view of the Merrimack River at its widest point in Lowell.  Looking across is a view of both Pawtucketville (to the west/southwest) and Centralville (to the east/northeast). The river at this beach is a torrent in the spring but calm in the summer.  Also, Beaver Brook empties into the Merrimack directly across the river.  This is a great spot to watch for bald eagles perched in nearby trees!  Lowell has many great views of the Merrimack and this location is a gem.

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2. Canal near UMass Lowell's Fox Hall

Amateur and professional photographers alike appreciate a beautiful sunset, especially when it creates a mesmerizing, peaceful reflection on water.  The view of the northern canal, located between UMass Lowell's East Campus and Father Morissette Boulevard, offers stunning scenes.  The canal extends from Pawtucket Street to Suffolk Street and a walk along the canal-bordering path provides great opportunities for sunrise to sunset pictures.

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3. Inside Mill No. 5

This view isn't as much of a "view" as it is a historical vista. Mill No. 5 is a collection of distinctive small businesses located in a Jackson Street mill built in 1873.  Once the elevator doors open into the fourth floor, Mill 5 presents a metaphor of the city itself and is just waiting to be photographed.
 
Preserved, nineteenth-century architecture and modern renovations combine with the flair and personality of small businesses to create something truly special.  There are many eye-catching features along the central hall's creaky wood floor.  Visitors are in for a unique shopping experience when they visit the mill.

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4. Merrimack River Bike Path

The river bike path is located at the southernmost point of the Centralville neighborhood, running just below the VFW Highway.  The path, in addition to being a great place to walk, jog, and observe wildlife such as waterfowl and beavers, offers beautiful views of both the Merrimack and Concord Rivers. The Concord River is no tiny tributary; it flows north from Wayland to Lowell where it empties into the Merrimack.
 
The path is the best location in Lowell to view the confluence of the two rivers, providing plenty of changing water and "Mile of Mill" views.

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5. Concord River at Muldoon Park

Muldoon Park, located in the South Lowell neighborhood near Lawrence Street, features a landing on the Concord River. This is the perfect place to relax, take photos, fish or launch a boat. 

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6. Christian Hill Resrvoir

The Christian Hill Reservoir in Centralville has one of the highest natural points in the city.  The lack of bright lights surrounding the elevated reservoir makes this a great destination for stargazing.
 
Viewing the horizon offers incredible sights across the entire city below.  On clear days, New Hampshire and its mountain ranges can be seen!  This location is not only the top of the city but is also the top of any list for sightseers.

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7. Robinson Middle School Parking Lot

Like the Christian Hill Reservoir, the Robinson Middle School is located in Centralville and is also a high point in Lowell.  For this reason, the school's parking lot is a convenient and popular destination for viewing the 4th of July fireworks over the river below.
 
Looking out at the horizon, the entire city can be seen in all directions, as well as Dracut, Tewksbury and the Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest.

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8. UMass Lowell's South Campus

Behind UMass Lowell's South Campus's Allen House lies a gently-sloping hill leading to a softball field, basketball courts and larger green space. This spot, surrounded by trees and overlooking the softball field with the Merrimack River in the near distance, provides a very peaceful view. 

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9. Merrimack River Rapids from the Howe Bridge

The Merrimack River rapids run between the Pawtucket Dam and Beaver Brook. The Howe Bridge (University Avenue) provides a high observation point both upriver towards the dam and down river towards the brook.
 
Nearby is a small veteran's memorial park with benches and a railing separating the landing from the drop below. It's a great place to view the river and see how the river splits Pawtucketville, directly across the water, and Centralville, further downstream, from the rest of Lowell.  University Avenue and the nearby park are also great spots to watch the spring waters roar over bedrock and to catch sight of ducks, geese, herons and other waterfowl as they fly over the bridge.

Lowell Cemetery Inside View (photo thanks to Wikipedia user Emw, some rights reserved).

Lowell Cemetery Inside View (photo thanks to Wikipedia user Emw, some rights reserved).

10. Lowell Cemetery

Lowell Cemetery is a destination for those seeking natural tranquility and serenity.  The cemetery - established in 1841 - is centered on a parklike setting in the Belvidere neighborhood.  Rolling hills, bright greens and mature trees blend beautifully with ornate, elegant tombstones.
 
The Lowell Cemetery provides many ways to experience and learn about Lowell through the natural setting, rich history and public art unique to those who are remembered here.

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Written by Henry St. Pierre

Even More Reasons Why Lowell is Heaven for Creatives

Art entrepreneurs create opportunities, jobs, culture, products and services that help drive our economy. With over 600 artists and makers residing in Lowell, the city has a great infrastructure that provides invaluable support to the creative community. (Read the first part of the article here).
 

1. Creative Resources

Over the last 10 years the Lowell Cultural Council Program (LCC) has supported hundreds of community-based projects in the arts, humanities and sciences annually allocating funding within the Lowell community on behalf of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. These funds provide economic support for community events that reach residents of all ages. This year alone the LCC funded 42 projects for a total of $61,645.

Pictured above is Barbara Poole's 'Veils of Color', a public art project funded by the LCC.

Pictured above is Barbara Poole's 'Veils of Color', a public art project funded by the LCC.

2. DIY Community

The spirit of do-it-yourself is alive and well in the city. Organizations like DIY Lowell, a citizen-led initiative that connects and empowers Lowellians, are essential to creating positive change. Residents can submit ideas and implement small-scale community projects to enhance the quality of life in the city's neighborhoods.

For PARK(ing) Day Lowell, DIY Lowell and the National Historical Park transformed three metered parking spaces on Merrimack Street into a pop-up park for the day.

For PARK(ing) Day Lowell, DIY Lowell and the National Historical Park transformed three metered parking spaces on Merrimack Street into a pop-up park for the day.

3. Cultural Partnerships

The Cultural Organization of Lowell provides information, advocacy and services to individuals, organizations, institutions and agencies involved with the local creative economy. Commonly known by the acronym "COOL" this nonprofit plays a key role in the city helping to strengthen the vitality and economic growth of arts and culture in Lowell. 

4. Makers Culture

As the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, Lowell continues to attract makers and innovators. Organizations like Lowell Makes are succeeding in efforts to bring together local artists, engineers, makers and thinkers to provide the tools and learning resources where individuals can gain and practice modern skills with a community of creative-minded people making all kinds of things.

5. Inspired Innovation

The first of its kind in Massachusetts, New Vestures is a fashion and textiles co-working makerspace. Founded in 2012 by artist, designer & educator, Diana Coluntino, New Vestures aims to support a community of fashion designers, entrepreneurs and innovators who believe that creative, sustainable apparel, textile design and manufacturing practices will improve lives and better the world. 


For more information on these organizations and more public arts attractions in Lowell, please visit likelowell.com.