Save the Date: EG Rotary’s Annual Wine & Wonderful March 20

wine_tasting_invite_2015_low_res(1) (1)Join the East Greenwich Rotary Club on Friday, March 20, for the seventh annual presentation of their signature fundraiser, Wine and Wonderful. Featured are the best of East Greenwich’s award-winning restaurants including Siena, Besos, Finn’s Harborside, Greenwich Bay Gourmet, Filippou’s Twisted and Pinelli’s.

Social hour begins at 6 p.m. and tastings at 7.

During the course of the evening guests will enjoy competing in the Bucket Raffle, playing Heads and Tails, and Oh – That Wonderful Wine!

The event takes place at Swift Community Center and tickets go for $35 a person or $320 a table of 10. For more information and tickets call the East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce, (401) 885-0020.

Money raised will benefit local organizations such as Kent County Hospital, the Music Department at East Greenwich High School and contribute to the approximately $17,000 a year in scholarships for local high school graduates.

Couple Hopes Fundraiser Will Help In Their Quest For Child

Holly & Jenny
Holly Wiesendanger, left, and Jenny Gruslin are holding a fundraiser to help in their quest to have a baby.

Jenny Gruslin and Holly Wiesendanger want a baby but after three years of trying, that’s proved elusive.

“During these three years, we have spent nearly $15,000 on treatments, donor sperm, medications, etc.,” explained Gruslin. “Every time you try, you think, ‘This is going to be the time it works.’ And then it doesn’t.  So, you try a little something different, and you spend a little more money always trying to do the least invasive, most cost-effective thing, while still giving yourself (and the money you’re burning) the best chance at success.”

Gruslin, 37, has undergone nine intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), while taking medications to help things along. They haven’t worked. Now the Warwick couple is hoping friends and supporters will help defray costs for additional fertility treatments or adoption, while enjoying an evening out. They are holding “Hang In th’ Air, Baby,” at the Varnum Armory Sunday, Feb. 15, from 6 to 10 p.m.

“We’ll be having female impersonator Gia Devaroux as our mistress of ceremonies,” said Gruslin. “And Arielle Extreme/Arielle Entertainment has donated their company aerialists, who will perform a cirque-like show on aerial silk fabric. The event is BYOB, but we will have refreshments, dancing, and swag bags, etc.”

There will be a silent auction as well.

“We have been incredibly blessed by our community who has been so generous with donations for our silent auction,” said Gruslin. “East Greenwich resident and author, Leah DeCesare, has donated signed copies of her book Naked Parenting! We have lots of gift cards for local spas, salons, massage therapy, original art pieces from local artists, etc. Hats, scarves, baby blankets, and leg warmers that I’ve been knitting will also be for sale.”

You can learn more about the couple’s journey to parenthood here: here: https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/5nz6/help-jenny-and-holly-start-their-family. And learn more about the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/308238539363190/.

Court Rules Odeum Corp., Not Erinakes, Owns Theater

The Odeum Corporation owns the Greenwich Odeum theater, Superior Court Judge Brian Stern ruled Friday, saying the statute of limitations had lapsed on a mortgage and promissory note held by Steve Erinakes.

Erinakes, who guided the transition of his family-owned movie theater to the Greenwich Odeum nonprofit theater it is today, filed suit against the Odeum Corp. last August, seeking a ruling on the validity of the mortgage. The Odeum Corp. filed a countersuit in September, arguing the mortgage was void because too many years had passed since the 15-year limit on the promissory note.

“The court grants the defendant’s motion to dismiss since the plaintiff has failed to timely file suit within the appropriate statute of limitations period,” Stern wrote in his decision on the Erinakes’s (the plaintiff) claim. The statute of limitations on a promissory note is six years. In this case, in which it was a 15-year note, that would place the statute of limitations at Jan. 1, 2012.

“We’re obviously overjoyed with the decision from Judge Stern,” said Odeum President Kevin Muoio Friday afternoon. “We look forward to the opportunity to keep the Greenwich Odeum a theater for another 90 years. Still, it’s critical for us to say there wouldn’t be a Greenwich Odeum and all of the positive impact that the theater’s made without the Erinakes family.”

Reached Friday evening, Erinakes declined comment, saying he had not yet had a chance to confer with his lawyer.

The Erinakes family owned and operated three movie theaters in East Greenwich for several decades in the 1900s, including the Hilltop drive-in on Post Road (where St. Elizabeth’s Home and The Seasons now sit), and the Kent and Greenwich theaters on Main Street. The Greenwich Theater, at 59 Main St., was the last to close, in 1990. After the closure, Erinakes decided to turn the theater into a nonprofit venue for live events.

The Odeum Corp.’s first attempt at securing federal nonprofit (501 c3) status failed. To satisfy the IRS, Erinakes arranged to sell the building, which was owned by in his mother, Blanch, to the Odeum Corp. After Blanch transferred ownership of the building to the Odeum Corp., the IRS granted it nonprofit status. The mortgage and $500,000 promissory note were assigned at that time but they were never recorded in the corporate documents and no payment schedule was ever established or enforced.

The Odeum theater operated as a nonprofit, with Erinakes in a leadership position, from 1994 to 2007, when it closed, unable to afford costly fire protection upgrades put into law after The Station nightclub fire. In 2009, the Town of East Greenwich threatened to return the building to the tax rolls because it was no longer operating as a nonprofit, galvanizing Erinakes and then-board president Frank Prosnitz to raise money to reopen the theater. After some fundraising and receipt of a $147,000 grant from the Champlin Foundations grant, the Odeum reopened in 2013.

In 2012, however, Erinakes parted ways with the Odeum Corp., when board members stated that the nonprofit – not Erinakes – owned the theater building. Erinakes filed suit last August to resolve the question.

In that complaint, Erinakes said he was looking for the promissory note and mortgage to be recognized as “valid and enforceable.”

“Let’s go see what the judge says,” Erinakes said then. “If I’m going to lose it, I want a judge to say it, not Jeff Gladstone and Frank Prosnitz.”

Gladstone, a lawyer, was on the board in 2012 when, with Prosnitz, he told the Town Council that Erinakes’s mortgage on the theater was no longer valid and that the Odeum owned the theater.

Gladstone, no longer on the board, made the oral argument for the Odeum Corp. in December.

“This was our position all along,” Gladstone said Friday. “We haven’t wavered from our position. We were just trying to come to terms with Mr. Erinakes and he just, unfortunately, wouldn’t accept it. That being said, one thing I don’t want to lose in all of this is how much the Erinakes family has done for the community.”

Gladstone said while the Erinakes suit has been dismissed, the Odeum suit remains pending. In it, the Odeum Corp. argued that Erinakes violated his fiduciary duty as president of the Odeum, since he sought private funds for the nonprofit while also planning to sell the building in 2012, as well as failing to get approval for the mortgage and promissory note from the Odeum Corp. board.

“Our claim will move forward,” said Gladstone, “but we’re hoping to have some conversations with [Erinakes] and resolve this thing amicably. This is a perfect opportunity to resolve all of the remaining claims and move forward together as friends.”

Muoio said with the decision the theater can now move forward with fundraising and grant applications. And he said he was excited about upcoming shows, including Tom Rush Jan. 31 and – just announced – blues legend Taj Mahal April 22.

Read about Erinakes’s original filing here; about the Odeum Corp.’s countersuit here, and some more history here.


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‘Reading With Robin’ Returns to Radio Friday

robin kallRobin Kall is crazy about books, and she’s crazy about people. Getting people together to talk about books is, well, her idea of heaven. That’s what she did for 10 years with her radio show, Reading with Robin. Now, after a two-year hiatus, the show is back – on 790AM WPRV, starting Friday, Jan. 16, from 4 to 5 p.m.

“I was one of those kids who was just a huge reader,” said Kall, who lives in East Greenwich. “I was the kid who was best friends with the librarian at the school. She would save Judy Blume books for me and I would help shelve and read to the younger kids.”

As an adult, Kall’s love affair with books, authors and readers continued.

“I’m a book matchmaker, I’m a book yenta, that’s what I am,” she said. For her first show, she’ll be taking calls from listeners and some favorite authors.

On her former radio show, guest authors included Rhode Island’s own Ann Hood as well as Jodi Picoult, Tom Perotta, Alice Hoffman, Chris Bohjalian, Adriana Trigiani, Jonathan Tropper, among others.

The radio show combines “my love of books and my love of socializing and bringing people together…. Even having a discussion about a book, you find out so much.”

In addition to the radio show, Kall is writing a bi-monthly column called “Well Read” for GoLocalProv, and she will be hosting special events throughout the year.


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‘Frozen’ Sing-a-Long Comes to Greenwich Odeum

Anna Elsa Ice Coronation
Simply Enchanted’s Anna & Elsa will be at the Odeum for all six showings of “Frozen.”

This month and next, the Greenwich Odeum is featuring six different showings of the popular Disney movie “Frozen,” with sing-a-long lyrics and the Snow sisters themselves leading the singing.

Whether it’s “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?” “Love Is an Open Door,” or the huge favorite, “Let it Go!” children (and adults) can sing along with abandon.

All child ticket holders will also receive a special goodie bag filled with magical treats to use throughout the movie – things like a snowball that never melts, and glowing ice powers of your own.

The Snow Sisters – Elsa and Anna – will be live in person and on stage for each show, thanks to actors from Simply Enchanted. And they will stay around for photos, autographs and a live meet-and-greet following each show.

There are six performances on three dates:

Saturday, January 17 at 1 p.m.

Saturday, January 17 at 6 p.m.

Saturday, February 7 at 11:30 a.m.

Saturday, February 7 at 3:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 7 at noon

Saturday, March 7 at 3:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for children, $12 for adults.

All performances will take place at the Greenwich Odeum, 59 Main St., East Greenwich.

For tickets and information, visit www.theodeum.org, call 401-885-4000 or visit greenwichodeum@gmail.com. Same day ticket sales are welcome, but ticket availability is limited, and some performances may sell out.

Tickets can also be purchased at our box office partner, Main Street Music, at 4 King Street in East Greenwich from Noon to 6 p.m. Mon-Fri. 

 

Prom Fashion Show Saturday at Odeum

East Greenwich resident Laura Sarlitto put on her first prom fashion show for charity four years ago and it’s been such a success it’s become a yearly event.

This year’s circus-themed fashion show, called “The Greatest Show on Earth,” will be held on Saturday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. at the Greenwich Odeum, 59 Main St. It will feature over 35 young Rhode Island women (ages 16-24) modeling prom wear from Sonya’s clothing boutique in Cranston, with all proceeds from ticket sales benefiting the Sojourner House in Providence. The Sojourner House is a nonprofit agency that offers advocacy and resources for domestic abuse victims.

Sarlitto, owner of Laura Ink Photography, designates a different charity each year. Ocean State Job Lot is sponsoring the show. Students from the Toni & Guy Academy in Cranston are donating their talents in doing hair and makeup for the models. Also walking the runway again will be Jessica Marfeo, 2013’s Miss Rhode Island, who participated in last year’s fashion show.

Sarlitto said the models are chosen from a casting call and then participate in a month-long training. She takes the women on photo shoots, helps them practice runway walks, and engages them in creative discussions. The end result is increased confidence.

“Something blossoms in these young women in the process and it’s the most rewarding thing to be able to work with them from beginning to end,” she said.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the 2015 Laura Ink Prom Expo Fashion Show, click here or visit www.laurainkphotography.com.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

 

‘Old Salty Dog – R.I. Folktale’ Author at Symposium Saturday

If you’re looking for a special gift this holiday season, you might look no farther than Symposium Books, where on Saturday you can buy a copy and meet the author of “Old Salty Dog – A Rhode Island Folktale.”

Seth McCombs wrote and illustrated the charming book, drawing inspiration from such folktale greats as Paul Bunyan and John Henry and the great challenges they faced. He will be at Symposium Books, 1000 Division St., Saturday at 2 p.m.

“The book is a tall tale of a quahogger who encounters all the sea monsters of myth and legend in his quest for clams,” said McCombs. “I grew up on Narragansett Bay and devoured every book on marine life I could find in the Warwick Library. The marina where my family kept their boat was also home to a lot of quahog skiffs … and I suppose the image of those boats is deep in my brain.”

He added, “The story itself was sitting in a notebook for a while when I decided to illustrate it. I write a lot of things down and my recollection of writing that story is that the first couple of rhymes popped into my head and then I just sat down and followed it wherever it went until it stopped.  When I had an art show to put together for display at Chez Pascal in Providence I needed something to focus on so I pulled Old Salty Dog out and created pieces to go with it. The art style is what resulted from me having a deadline and no time to think about what it should look like. I just made each piece, to the best of my ability and was forced to do what came intuitively. I remember thinking it was the most honest thing I had ever done, in that way. Trying to look at the art from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know me, I think it’s obvious that I loved Tintin as a kid and that I spend a lot of time looking at nautical woodcuts and Japanese finger waves.”

 

Cherish the Ladies Brings Irish Christmas to Odeum

There’s something about Celtic music that speaks to Christmas and the holidays like few other musical styles, and East Greenwich will get a chance to experience an evening of holiday Celtic and folk music on Friday, when Grammy Award-winning Cherish the Ladies returns to the Greenwich Odeum.

Cherish the Ladies has developed a special relationship with the Odeum over the years. In part, that’s because the band loves the space and partly because band leader Joanie Madden has a personal connection to East Greenwich – her brother Joe Madden and his family, who live here in town.

“I’m looking forward again to see my brother and his family,” said Joanie Madden in a phone interview Sunday. “We’ve got a great show, with music, singing and dancing. It’s just a wonderful family concert.”

Cherish the Ladies is about to celebrate 30 years of music and entertaining. Madden, who plays flutes and whistles, brings her fun and funny personality to every show, making the audience feel right at home. Cherish the Ladies plays year-round of course, but Christmas is special, Madden says.

The band has two Christmas albums. The New York Times named the first, “On Christmas Night,” one of the best Christmas albums of the year when it was released. More recently, they put out “A Star in the East.”

“There’s something about how well Christmas and Celtic work together,” Madden said.

The concert is more than just music. This year’s show includes four Irish step dancers, and if we’re lucky, Madden herself will do a bit of a jig – as she did the last time Cherish the Ladies played the Odeum.

To buy tickets, visit the Odeum website here. Or visit Main Street Music, 4 King St.

That Lip-Syncing Extravaganza Airband Strikes Again

 

You know you’re from East Greenwich when you understand what people are talking about when they refer to “Airband.”

This annual rite of passage for all who pass through the halls of East Greenwich High School – students and (some brave) teachers alike – Airband is a feat of lip-syncing teamwork that is unlike just about anything else you might see on a high school stage.

For the uninitiated, there are two types of acts: class and group. Winning the class act is a huge point of pride. This year’s winner, the junior class, had a Disney-themed act. For the judges – Mrs. Rath, Mr. Levesque, Mrs. Mong, Mr. Wren, and Mr. Brocato – it did the trick. Seniors came in second, with an around-the-world theme, followed by sophomores, then freshman.

The top group act was W.A.R.D. (We Are Nerds).

The evening’s able, amusing and acrobatic hosts were Adam Sticca and Natalie Valicenti.

Here are some photos from the evening:

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The seniors, down under.

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Seniors

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Seniors in Africa.

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Boy Ance

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Under the Sea with the junior class.

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Aladdin’s star turn for the juniors.

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Hosts Adam Sticca and Natalie Valicenti

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W.A.R.D. (We Are Nerds)

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Sophomores

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Best Buddies, in their first Airband performance ever!

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Freshmen

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Freshmen


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A Great Night on the Town

By Ed Cure

I’m not a writer. I’m not a musician. I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. But I was inspired to document the experience my wife and I had Saturday evening at the Greenwich Odeum by “A Night In The City,” a show made up of choice tunes from Broadway musicals, interspersed with other entertaining numbers having ties of their own to the Big Apple.

We didn’t purchase tickets ahead of time; we weren’t sure we would even go. Dinner and a babysitter are expensive enough. We were not sure we wanted to spend another $30 per person for a night on the town.

We started with dinner at the Greenwich Bay Oyster Bar. We’d been there a few times before and thought we would try again to see if it’s really as good as every other time we’d been, or had we just been lucky each time. It was another home run. We were pleased to see some familiar faces there, and had come nice conversations before settling into dinner at the bar.

John was a fantastic bartender – attentive and knowledgeable. Rather than let us each order the Baby Spinach Salad with crumbled gorgonzola, dried cranberries, and a tomato vinaigrette for a starter, he coached us into a single order because it’s so big. While some places would frown on losing the extra order, good restaurants know that returning customers will bring a lot more money than short-term gains from allowing customers to over-order. Thanks, John!

Carolyn ordered the Pumpkin Ravioli special topped with seared scallops. She normally shares. She did not on Saturday. I had an appetizer special for my main course. It was a “cake” trio – one crab cake with spicy aioli, one stuffie, and a delicious salmon cake in a creamy dill sauce. All three were delicious, but my favorite was the chorizo-spiced Stuffie. I shared . . . reluctantly, and really only because I was still too full from Halloween candy. Carolyn favored the salmon cake.

During dinner we decided we would stop by the show in support of both the Odeum and local artist Phoebe Madden. We hadn’t been there since the grand re-opening almost two years ago and I’ve been feeling a little hypocritical that I (mostly passively) supported the efforts to restore and open it, but have not taken advantage of its presence since. It went unsaid, but I had in the back of my head that we could always sneak out early if we wanted, right? Spoiler alert. We didn’t!

I was amazed at how quickly the two hours went by. It was broken up with a 15-minute intermission.   And, yes, there was a cash bar available. Their playlist was lively and diverse. There was something for everyone. Broadway musical numbers highlighted Madden’s extraordinary talent and incredible passion for performing, while tenor singer Michael DiMucci brought the 140 attendees, including former Governor Don Carcieri, to their feet with his Italian opera piece – not something I would ordinarily be partial to, but to see it performed like that in person and in such an intimate setting was really tremendous. Mr. DiMucci also reflected on the influences from the likes of Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Paul Anka and Frank Sinatra. His versions of “My Way” and “New York State Of Mind” were particularly memorable. David Marshall also helped make the night with his mastery of the alto saxophone, but his fingers can also find their way around the keyboard pretty darn well too, and he can also sing with the best of them. And Philip Martorella was also a strong presence with his solid piano accompaniment.

Keeping rhythm for the evening was Brandon Carrita on drums. EGHS Senior Adam Sticca warmed up the crowd with some Billy Joel, and Berklee freshman Alyssa DiMaio entertained during intermission. Backup singers Sophie Rodgers and Kayla Carcieri Cassidy (both students of Madden’s) were a big hit with the crowd in their Odeum debut, and we hope to see more of them in the future!

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night for me was the charismatic trumpeter, Ritchee Price. The elder statesman of the group, Price has travelled the world with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, including an appearance at the White House during the Reagan administration, and he toured with the Count Basie Orchestra culminating in a final performance at Carnegie Hall. In addition to his trumpet, he entertained everyone with stories of his past and his scat singing, but most of all I loved his solo performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

When you put all of this talent together, I feel fortunate that we were even able to get tickets at the last minute. I shudder to think that we almost missed the opportunity to be swept away by their music for a couple of hours, and felt compelled to spread the word so more of you will have the opportunity next time. There was no better example of what this talented group can do together than their ensemble rendition of “Seasons Of Love” from the musical, “Rent.” I saw the original version of this show on Broadway and own the soundtrack, and this version still gave me goosebumps. It was my favorite song of the night.

Sixty dollars for “A Night In The City” was a small price to pay!

Ed Cure lives in East Greenwich. Interested in writing for EG News about the arts or the dining scene here in East Greenwich? Contact editor@eastgreenwichnews.com.