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Portsmouth Music Hall | Writers on a New England Stage

Portsmouth Music Hall | Writers on a New England Stage
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The hum of the expectant crowd dies immediately as the lights go down in the packed auditorium. The cherubs and goddesses looming from the dome overhead retreat into the shadows. The curtain parts, and the opening band kicks into a short set. The vibration of the thin wood floor urges the audience to the edges of their seats. Finally, the emcee appears, grasps the podium, and welcomes the crowd to … a book reading?

“Writers on a New England Stage” has given a normally stodgy literary exercise the rock-star treatment — and the results have been phenomenal. Blockbuster artists such as authors Mitch Albom and John Updike and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns have graced the hall’s stage to read from their work and to chat with New Hampshire Public Radio host Laura Knoy as part of this ongoing series.

Housed in the newly restored Portsmouth Music Hall, the evening is a confluence of literature, music, architecture, and history. It’s also the hottest ticket in town.

Part of an aggressive calendar of events, “Writers on a New England Stage” is a keystone of the Portsmouth Music Hall’s astonishing renaissance. Each sold-out performance cements its place as Portsmouth’s arts center and one of the premier venues on the New England seaboard. If you’re a lover of the finer things in life, the Music Hall is a mandatory destination. That is, of course, if you can get a seat.

Portsmouth Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth, NH 603-436-2400;

Justin Shatwell


Justin Shatwell


Justin Shatwell is a longtime contributor to Yankee Magazine whose work explores the unique history, culture, and art that sets New England apart from the rest of the world. His article, The Memory Keeper (March/April 2011 issue), was named a finalist for profile of the year by the City and Regional Magazine Association.
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