Help Apple Tree Arts with Grafton Town House renovation

All right. My last two posts were about my car which, as of today, is totaled and unfixable. So let’s talk about something we can fix: the Grafton Town House, aka One Grafton Common.

Apple Tree Arts has spent the past few years working on a very extensive renovation project for the historic landmark on Grafton Common, which has served as Grafton’s town hall, Masonic lodge, business center and… the list goes on and on. Apple Tree Arts hopes to turn it into an arts center, utilizing the building’s Great Hall.

Check out their video on the building’s history and how you can help with its renovation!


Tickets still available for Grafton Costume Ball

ballWhat do these things — an elegant wine dinner for four at One Eleven Chop House, Walt Disney Park Hopper passes and an iPad mini have in common?  These are just a few of the items available to bid on at the Silent Auction at The Costume Ball on May 18, 6 p.m. at the Pleasant Valley Country Club.

Come and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Grafton Town House at the Ball. You’ll enjoy an elegant sit-down dinner, the music of the big-band orchestra Point ‘n’ Swing and a vintage photography sitting courtesy of Mary Dennis Photography.

Make sure you don’t miss all of the fun. Dance the night away to the music of Point ‘n’ Swing as they perform class rock tunes, jazz music, contemporary movie theme songs and hits of the Roaring Twenties era. The Silent Auction table also features additional items such as golf club passes; resort hotel packages; a Kindle Fire; tickets to sports events and The Hanover Theatre; a Westboro Tennis and Swim membership and much more.

Drop by the Grafton Country Store, Two Grafton Common or the Grafton Historical Society and Apple Tree Arts, both located at Two Grafton Common, to purchase your ticket to this festive party. Tickets cost $50. Call the Grafton Historical Society at 508-839-0000 to reserve a table of 10.

Sponsors of the Costume Ball include The Telegram & Gazette and Dunkin Donuts of Grafton.

All proceeds benefit Apple Tree Arts’ capital campaign to restore the Grafton Town House.

Submitted by Dana Wilson

Apple Tree Arts presents ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’

Apple Tree Arts' Peter Pan GroupApple Tree Arts stages “Peter Pan and Wendy” on Friday, May 17, 7 p.m. at the Grafton Middle School, 22 Providence Road in Grafton. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students and free for children four and younger. Tickets will be sold at the door.

This dramatic adaptation of J. M. Barrier’s original novel tells the story of the mischievous little boy Peter and his adventures on the island of Neverland with Wendy Darling and her brothers, Michael and John. After Peter flies into the Darling family’s nursery, Wendy agrees to leave with him and become a mother to his motherless gang of Lost Boys. Soon they are all swept up into a series of adventures in which they meet the magical fairy Tinkerbell, save the beautiful Indian princess Tiger Lily and battle with the mean pirate Captain Hook and his crew.

The 17 cast members have been rehearsing since February. Students are from Grafton, Shrewsbury, Northbridge, Sutton and Uxbridge.

“Our youth show is a drama with a little bit of comedy,” explained Lisa Scarlett, theatre arts director of the community music and theatre arts school. “The play allows us to focus on acting and character development in a more in-depth way than we do with musicals or comedies. It’s nice to see our older students maturing and growing into more dramatic roles,” Ms. Scarlett noted.

Laurie Baker, early child educator and theatre arts teacher, and Ms. Scarlet are co-directing the show. They are sharing the directing tasks with Ms. Baker focusing on sound effects and props while Ms. Scarlett concentrates on blocking and sourcing costumes. Together they have co-directed many musicals including “The Jungle Book Kids and “Beauty and the Beast.”  They co-directed one other drama, “A Little Princess” two years ago.


Dressing up for the Grafton Costume Ball? Here’s where to find costumes

Vintage Murdock

Photo by Mary Dennis

If you’re looking for the perfect outfit to wear to the Costume Ball fundraiser next month, there are many options to choose from locally and online. The Costume Ball is May 18, 6 p.m. at the Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton. Tickets cost $50 each and are for sale at the Grafton Country Store, Grafton Historical Society and Apple Tree Arts. All proceeds benefit Apple Tree Arts’ capital campaign to restore the Grafton Town House.

Peggy’s Place Boutique, located at One Grafton Common, has a variety of vintage style clothing and accessories for sale including the Victorian and Titanic inspired Nataya line of dresses. The store will place special orders for customers.

Several costume stores offer historic period outfits for rental or purchase for men and women. Boston Costume located at 200 Broadway in Cambridge, Mass. has a wide range of outfits from 1860s, colonial, Victorian and other eras. Visit for more information. Whether you want to look like Rhett Butler or Scarlett O’Hara or dress in the roaring twenties style, Costumes of Nashua has the look that will suite you. Visit http://www.costumesofnashua or their store at 76 Derry Street in Hudson, N.H. for details. Many three-day costume rentals cost about $95 to $135. Although Magic World in Shrewsbury has a small selection of historic period costumes, its close by and worth a call to 508-792-9377.

Several online retail web sites offer a variety of clothing styles. For women’s and men’s clothing, provides a wide selection of vintage inspired outfits. A vintage clothing web site for women, provides links to web sites offering clothing from many different eras. Both Victorian and Edwardian clothing for men and women can be found at Check out for Victorian styled clothing for women that offers plus sizes.  Edgier type of Victorian inspired clothing is offered at

Historic period costume attire is optional. If you prefer to wear 21st century clothing instead of a Great Gatsby or Downton Abbey inspired outfit, suggested dress is evening wear.

Enjoy an elegant sit-down dinner of herb-encrusted chicken, the big-band sound of the Point ‘N Swing orchestra and a lively time bidding on great silent auction items like health club memberships, hotel room packages and tickets to sporting events and theater shows at the Costume Ball. The Apple Tree Arts Flute Choir will perform during the cocktail hour, too.

Early in the evening a vintage photography sitting will be available courtesy of Mary Dennis Photography.  Samples and prices will be provided so you may order your prints at the Ball if you like.

Ball tickets may be purchased in advance at the Grafton Country Store, Two Grafton Common, as well as the Grafton Historical Society and Apple Tree Arts, both located at One Grafton Common. To purchase a table of 10, please call the Grafton Historical Society, 508-839-0000.

Submitted by Dana Wilson

Apple Tree Arts presents “Hats!”

Cast Picture One FinalApple Tree Arts stages the mini-musical “Hats!” on Sat., April 13, 7 p.m. at GB & Lexi Singh Performance Center, Alternatives Unlimited, 60 Douglas Road, Whitinsville. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children five and over. Tickets will be sold at the door.

Join in the fun when hats of all sizes, shapes and colors take over the stage. Actors portraying milliners are searching for the perfect hat for Hatless Hank. The character, Ima Milliner takes the lead in finding him the best one. The show uses clever rhyming script and original songs to explore all kinds of hats, their uses and the people who wear them.

Grafton cast members include Noah Griffin, Lily Often, Cassie Brown and Julia Chaisson.

The audience will enjoy meeting different historical characters and seeing the hats they wear. Uncle Sam wears a special hat as he sings with the cast the song, “Uncle Sam Is Who I Am.” Napoleon Bonaparte, Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Boone and Queen Elizabeth sing about their favorite hats in “The Perfect Hat for Me.”

The cast of 14 students from Grafton, Shrewsbury, Northbridge, Oxford, Millbury and Worcester have learned dialogue, choreography and songs for the show. The elementary school aged actors also helped create props, too.

The mini-musical is directed by Laurie Baker, theatre arts and early child music teacher and Lisa Scarlett, theatre arts director. The co-directors have worked on many shows together including “The Jungle Book Kids,” “Snoozy Snowflake” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Parents and students have volunteered with the production. Parents are developing the marquee, selling star grams and organizing the refreshments. Katelyn Baker has assisted the directors with many facets of the production.

Apple Tree Arts continues its Penny campaign established to assist with fundraising efforts to restore the second and third floors of the Grafton Town House into a performance arts center.  Children are encouraged to bring their pennies and loose change to the show. Participants will be entered into a drawing for an iTunes gift card.

Founded in 1989, Apple Tree Arts is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization that has grown to serve over 1,000 children and adults annually with early childhood music classes, group keyboard lessons, private music and voice instruction, ensembles, theatre arts programs and concerts.  For more information, visit

Submitted by Dana Wilson, Apple Tree Arts

Apple Tree Arts plans April vacation experience

Tougas applesApple Tree Arts is planning a spring break session of theater games and activities on Tuesday, April 16, 9 a.m.-noon.

The description: “Argue with numbers, build machines with only your bodies, become a color wheel and much more! Attendees will enjoy games of pantomime, improv and interaction to help build their acting skills and confidence. Grades 1-5 welcome!”

Visit or call (508)-839-4286 to register.

Scenes from Mulan Jr.

Apple Tree Arts on Friday night produced “Mulan Jr.,” featuring a cast of children in grades 2-5. My former co-worker (and proud grandma) Debbie attended the performance with camera in hand.


Here is the child who played Mulan. Writes Debbie, “someone stole my program, so I don’t have her name.” That’s OK, we try not to put children’s names on the blog!

Mulan cast

And here are a few members of the cast.

Debbie promises more photos, but she’s having computer issues on her end and my husband needs the computer on my end! Thanks, Deb.

Celebrating kids — and the arts

Looking for something to do with the kids tomorrow? The Evangelical Congregational Church is holding its fourth annual “Kids Fest” on Sunday, with musical performances, crafts and snacks available.

Children and music bring out the best in everyone and to that end, the 4th Annual “Kid’s Fest” is taking place this weekend on Sunday, March 8, 1-3p.m., at the Evangelical Congregational Church, 30 Grafton Common. This family-friendly event is open to all ages and all are welcome.

A donation of $7.00 per family is being asked for at the door with all monies going directly to Apple Tree Arts, the vibrant, community arts organization based in Grafton that since 1989 has helped hundreds of children reach their musical potential.

The afternoon of fun will be broken into two phases with several outstanding individual and group musical performances by Apple Tree Arts students taking place from 1-2 p.m., and crafts and snacks from 2-3 p.m.

According to Donna Blanchard, Apple Tree Arts founder, “The musical performances at Kid’s Fest 2009 will showcase a number of the most talented young musicians in Grafton and the surrounding communities. “We hope that families interested in a fun and relaxing afternoon of entertainment will join us.”

The Evangelical Congregational Church is a caring community of faith founded in 1731. People gather at the church to nurture, share and celebrate the wonder of life. No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey, we invite you to join us. For more information call the church at 839-4513.

I know… I know… you’re waiting for the spelling bee pictures. I only just got on the computer (hey, it’s Saturday) and I’m still sifting through about 70 shots from last night shot under questionable lighting.

Also, I didn’t hear the air raid sirens last night, so I’m assuming that fire alarm that was pulled at the end of the spelling bee was a false alarm…

Two Friday night options

Who wants a hockey stick signed by the entire Bruins team?

There’s a catch: you may have to spell for it.

Just a reminder that tomorrow night is the GEA’s Community Spelling Bee & Silent Auction, which runs 6-8:30 p.m. at Grafton High School. Admission is free and there will not only be food available for purchase, but there will also be plenty of opportunities to win interesting items at the silent auction, including  including Bruins and Celtics tickets (and the aforementioned hockey stick), golf at Highfields Country Club and health club memberships.

Among the teams who will be competing for the title of Best Speller are  North Grafton Elementary, South Grafton Elementary, Grafton Elementary, Grafton Middle School, Grafton Soccer Club, Pop Warner, the Board of Selectmen, the School Committee, Apple Tree Arts, and Grafton Library, among others.

Spelling not your thing or your kids are too young? There’s also a night of entertainment scheduled by Apple Tree Arts. Here’s their release:

Join Apple Tree Arts for a fun night of entertainment featuring children’s musician/puppeteer Kim Webster and other faculty members at Pizzazz Family Concert, Friday March 6 at St. Philip’s Catholic Church, 12 West Street, Grafton.  Pizza and light refreshments will be served. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children five and older with a family cap of $25. Seating is limited. Reservations required. Call Apple Tree Arts at 508-839-4286 for tickets.

Mr. Kim will sing songs, play guitar and entertain everyone with his lively repertoire.  He is well liked by children for his amazing ability to capture their attention with his original songs, rhymes and story telling. “Humm,” his recent CD has many of the short popular rhymes and songs he uses in the classroom as a pre-school children’s music teacher. Mr. Kim has been a faculty member of the nonprofit community music and theater arts school for almost ten years.

There’s another Oktoberfest Saturday!



Just when you thought you’d recovered from South Grafton’s Octoberfest, another Oktoberfest looms on the horizon for this weekend! And the spelling isn’t the only thing that’s different.

Apple Tree Arts is presenting a Celtic Oktoberfest concert “featuring the dynamic duo of Roy Johnstone and Steve Sharratt from Prince Edward Island and the quartet Riverbend with Myra MacLeod”  for an evening of singing, fiddle and guitar playing Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Polish National Home, 7 Main St./Rte. 122A in South Grafton.

Mr. Johnstone and Mr. Sharratt will play a varied set list of traditional Scottish, Irish and Acadian tunes and original compositions from their new CD “Longshore Drift.” The CD is a tribute to several Prince Edward Island fiddlers and is a long-awaited collaboration between the two musicians. Mr. Johnstone is considered one of the most accomplished fiddler players in Atlantic Canada and has recorded four solo albums. Mr. Sharratt is an award winning writer, recording artist, guitarist and mandolinist.

The duo just returned from a headline performance at the New Hampshire Highland Games in Loon, New Hampshire. They will be promoting “Longshore Drift” during their tour to several venues in New England.

Riverbend’s style of music is traditional and interpretive folk, Celtic and New England dance tunes woven into performance art. The group performs spirited tunes blending vocals with stringed instruments. The quartet features Myra MacLeod, a certified Suzuki violin instructor and Apple Tree Arts faculty member plays violins and viola; Ron Carlson, singer and songwriter and octave mandolin, guitar and banjo player; Mary Carfanga, cellist and violinist and Rob Huffman, vocalist and Irish flute and guitar player.

Riverbend musicians are well known in the New England and East Canadian folk scene and have recorded solo CD’s. This spring the group plans on releasing their first CD.

This is part of Apple Tree Arts’ 20th anniversary celebration — wow, that’s impressive for a local arts group.

Admission is $20 and includes an Oktoberfest buffet with specialty beer tasting. For tickets, call Apple Tree Arts at 508-839-4286.