An 'entertaining' 45 years: Looking back at the 2000s


First Night ushered in 2000 with a spectacular fireworks and laser show.

Sept. 11, 2001, caused the temporary suspension of the arts and just about everything else, as people searched for answers and meaning, The arts slowly came back, and in many cases served as a source of healing.

“Shrek” was a big family movie. Other popular films included “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Mama Mia,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Avatar” and “The King’s Speech.”

The Gamm Theatre moved to the Pawtucket Armory.

Lemongrass opened in Warwick in 2003. Right now, they are open for take-out and doing a big business.

FirstWorks emerged as a major arts organization In Rhode Island under the leadership of Cranstonian Kathleen Pletcher.

First Night ended its 18-year run. A group of local artists tried to keep the New Year’s Eve celebration of the arts going, but the event fizzled out.

In 2006, Oskar Eustice left for New York and Curt Columbus became the artistic director at Trinity Rep.

“The Tent: Life in the Round,” a great documentary on the Warwick Musical Theatre, was produced in 2009.

Cranston’s Park Theatre opened with a bang on 2009, but unfortunately the beautifully renovated theatre just couldn’t compete with all of the other venues in Rhode Island.

The Wilbury Group, a new theatre group, started in Rhode Island in 2010. Ray Mancini and Jim Sullivan starred in a fantastic production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?”

Restaurant Weeks became popular.

Rhode Island lost one of its theatre greats, Pat Hegnauer.

We lost Mark Malkovich II, who for so many years brought a touch of class to the Newport Music Festival. Aimee Turner brought her Ocean State Theatre to a former industrial building on Warwick’s Jefferson Boulevard in 2012. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it.

Second Story Theatre added a small downstairs theatre and was completing an upstairs theatre. Unfortunately, after so many years of good, innovative theatre, Ed Shea folded his tent and a Rhode Island tradition was no more.

After 21 years, Larry Rachleff bid farewell to the Rhode Island Philharmonic. Bramwell Tovey was chosen as its new “artistic advisor” and conductor.

Wonen’s Work Theatre Collaborative made its debut in 2018 at Cranston’s Artists Exchange. The brainchild of Cranston’s Lynne Collinson, the theatre sought out plays for “mature” actresses.

The Gamm came to Warwick. “Hamilton” came to Providence. “Prince of Providence” came to Trinity.

2020: The Day the Music Died

Ironically, “1917” was the last great movie to be shown at the Showcase Cinemas.

“The Hunt” and “Bloodshed” were the last movies I reviewed (March 19) I gave them both one star.

In February, “Admissions” at Gamm and “Radio Golf” at Trinity were the last great plays I’ve seen.

On March 19, I wrote an article titled “Life Without the Arts,” as the threat of COVID-19 caused the arts and entertainment industries to cancel upcoming events.

The rest, as they say, is history.


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