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Bug Out of the Box

Area museums have been giving our inner 8-year-old a real treat this month. First, the Schenectady Museum went all robot-crazy, and now the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield is unveiling Bug Out of the Box: Contemporary Art, Science and History of Bugs, an entire exhibit dedicated to our little insect friends. (Spiders, too!) The title of the exhibit is a play on the idea that insects are typically displayed matter-of-factly, in neat rows of little boxes. In Bug Out of the Box, the titular bugs are not only the subject, but sometimes the medium—for instance, Jennifer Angus’ room installations feature “wallpaper” made entirely from insect exoskeletons. Creepy, sure, but also really freakin’ cool, right? Other works include Hillevi Baar’s 8-inch drawing Cocoon, an 8-foot metal praying mantis by sculptor Don Jones, Louise Bourgeois’ Spider VI (pictured, 2002), and Catherine Chalmers’ photographs of roaches. And who doesn’t love roaches?

Bug Out of the Box: Contemporary Art, Science and History of Bugs opens at the Berkshire Museum (39 South St., Pittsfield, Mass.) this Saturday (July 8). The exhibit will remain on display through October 29. For more information, call (413) 443-7171.

Beauty and the Beast

Park Playhouse, that groovy summer explosion of free musical theater in Albany’s Washington Park, celebrates its 18th season with a production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The folks at Park Playhouse are crowing over something else notable, too: The production is being directed by Owen M. Smith, a graduate of the Park Playhouse II Youth Theatre Training Program.

Washington Park is one of the great resources of the city, and the Lakehouse is a great setting. Yes, there are some paid reserved seats available, but most of the seats are free. The location is beautiful. The mood is usually convivial. And there’s food for sale, too.

And the plays? Impressively produced, family-friendly fare, of which Beauty and the Beast is a prime example. A successful, Oscar-nominated animated movie-musical for the whole family, transformed into a theatrical smash.

Beauty and the Beast opens Tuesday (July 11) at 8 PM at the Lakehouse (Washington Park, Albany), and continues through Aug. 20. Shows are Tuesday through Sunday at 8 PM. Admission is free, but there are some paid, reserved seats in front of the stage. For reservations, call 434-0776.

Allstate Bluesfest

If you haven’t had enough excitement at Empire State Plaza what with the Fourth of July Fest and all, make a trip back to the plaza this weekend for the two-day Allstate Bluesfest. This free festival will feature three stages, each with a packed schedule of blues performers—everyone from local faves like Matt Mirable and Alison Jacobs to headliners Chicago Blues Reunion. In addition to the performances, there will be artists’ workshops on Saturday with musicians like Joe Price, Diunna Greenleaf and more.

The Northeast Blues Society’s Colossal Contenders Contest comes to an end tomorrow (Friday) night with its finalists battling it out for the win, which will be announced (directly after their performances) at 10 PM. There’s also a rare acoustic set with bluesman Rhett Tyler (pictured). The winner goes on to represent the Northeast Blues Society to compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Make sure you get out there to support your favorite local act.

The Allstate Bluesfest will take place this weekend (Friday-Saturday, July 7-8) at the Empire State Plaza (Albany). Free parking is available in the east garage and in the visitor’s lot. More information (and a full schedule of performers) is available at www.ogs.state.ny.us/plaza, or call (877) 659-4ESP.


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