by Nat Frothingham
EAST MONTPELIER — Storytelling duo Tim Jennings and Leanne Ponder are presenting what they describe as “a close-up variety show” to include storytelling, vaudeville, puppetry, a circus and mime act — in what has to be one of the smallest and most intimate performing spaces in central Vermont — the Four Corners Schoolhouse in East Montpelier. The event begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday evening, October 3.
The five variety show performers are storytellers Jennings and Ponder. Also Rose Friedman and Justin Lander — Bread and Puppet Theater veterans and actors with the Hardwick-based Modern Times Theater. Also circus and mime artist Rob Mermin will be performing a vignette from his Bubble Circus. Mermin, who trained with Marcel Marceau, was the founder and director of Circus Smirkus.
Jennings and Ponder also describe the show as a “Pocket Chatauqua” in the spirit of the broadly popular travelling road shows that swept the country during the late 19th century. With 50 seats and a small stage, the Four Corners Schoolhouse, promises to create an audience and performance space that is friendly to mime, vaudeville, storytelling, laughter and applause.
Talking about the October 3 event, Jennings said, “All five of this evening’s artists are quite comfortable performing in front of very big audiences and it’s exciting to do that. But there’s a certain kind of performance that only works, and a kind of connection you can only get, when your audience is literally close enough to touch.”