Happy New Year! Will 2014 be the year that a major motion picture is filmed in Manchester? If Jack Heath has his way, then filmmakers will use a local hospital for at least part of the movie based on his best-selling book "Salem VI: Rebecca's Rising."As host of WGIR's NH Today, Heath is a natural storyteller and the tale of his new writing career and movie deal is really exciting.
He said the story for his first book came to him while on vacation with his family in 2010. His said his sister, Marjory Wentworth, is the real writer in the family and as a poet laureate was able to get his working manuscript in front of several publishers. He accepted an offer from Pressque Publishing in South Carolina and is already finishing the third book in his series of paranormal thrillers set in Salem, Mass.
Heath said the mom of a filmmaker with Wonderland Pictures, Inc. happened to read his book and encouraged her son to get a copy. Heath was then invited to meet with some members of the production company while they were working with the team filming the recently released "American Hustle" in Salem, Mass. Wonderland purchased the rights to his first two books; filming on the first is set to start this year.
Matt Newton, director of the New Hampshire Film and Television Office, said he received a call in the fall when the film was in early development. He hopes most, if not all, of it will be filmed in New Hampshire.
Heath said producers want to film most of the movie in Portsmouth, because of its strong resemblance to Salem, Mass., but Manchester could be the setting for some hospital scenes.
"Rebecca's Rising" imagines the possibility that a real coven of Satan worshippers was behind the Salem witch trials and is still at work in Salem today. Glimpses of Heath's real life can be found throughout the fictional tale. He grew up near Salem, Mass., in Marblehead, and is a direct descendant of both Rebecca Nurse, the last person tried and hanged during the witch trials, and her accuser Ann R. Putnam. Heath was once news director at WMUR; his main character, John Andrews, has a history in television news.
Many of "Rebecca's Rising" reviewers on GoodReads.com, where it has an average of 3.99 stars out of five, compare it to Dan Brown's "DaVinci Code." Let's hope Heath sees the same success as Brown.
It is clear he will do everything in his power to keep filming in New Hampshire, and I hope he is successful. Maybe there is even a role for me as an extra. I would make an excellent witch, just ask my husband.
You can purchase Heath's books at www.GOSHOPNH.com.
Noon Year's Eve
I love how many events The Currier Museum of Art has for families. I just wish I wasn't on the verge of a heart attack every moment we're inside.
My husband and I brought our three boys to the museum's Noon Year's Eve party last Tuesday. This is becoming a very popular annual event, featuring a great magic show, a make-your-own party hat craft, a fun photo area, a couple of giveaways and balloon drop in the Winter Garden. It was encouraging to see so many staff and volunteers, including Director and CEO Susan Strickler, on hand. They ensured a smooth event and protected the art from all the children.
I bring the kids to the Currier about once a year and after saying, "be quiet, walk slowly, and don't touch that," about a million times I vow never to bring them back. I obviously have a short memory. I also remember loving the Currier when I was a child, particularly while taking classes at the Currier Art Center, so I know I just need to keep bringing them until they learn how to behave around a Picasso.
The Currier Art Center is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. New classes and workshops for children, teens and adults begin Jan. 21. See all the offerings, including some out-of-the box options such as fused glass, weaving and jewelry-making. Visit www.currier.org/art-center for more information.
"XANADU" is a simple story about a Greek muse, Clio, who descends from Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach in 1980 on a quest to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, to achieve the greatest creation of his life — a roller disco. Sounds weird, right? It is, but so much fun because the actors are performing on roller skates.
Friday is opening night for "XANADU" at The Palace Theatre. This Tony-nominated musical is based on a 1980s movie. Even if you have never seen it, you may recognize much of the music, originally performed by Olivia Newton John and Electric Light Orchestra.
Palace Theatre director of Marketing and Public Relations Chris Lockwood said the cast visited Hudson's Roller Kingdom, in full costume, to practice their skills with hundreds of children during Christmas vacation. You can see pictures of the outing on the theater's Facebook page.
Whitney Meyer, who plays the lead role as Clio, was born to play roles made famous by Newton John. Lockwood said she also played Sandy in The Palace Theatre's production of "Grease." The lead male role of Sonny is being played by Meyer's real-life husband, Nathan Meyer.
"The musical has the same plot as the movie but it is very different; it makes fun of the movie being so bad. It is totally a family-friendly show that is over the top funny," Lockwood said.
Tickets range from $15 to $45; the show runs through Jan. 25. For more information on this and other fun shows around Manchester, visit www.NH365.org.
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