Encore: The Festival presents an array of talks, entertainment, and activities centered on the pursuit of purpose and vitality as one ages. A cavalcade of speakers tackle topics of health, happiness, and heart, such as best-selling author Dan Buettner, who brings the experience garnered from his world travels to a discussion of greater longevity through lifestyle and diet, and theologian Leonard Sweet, who explores the importance of community and communication throughout life. Apply your organ of Corti to the appreciation of performances by the Grammy Award–winning Blind Boys of Alabama, guitarist Toby Walker, and Christian-fusion jazz band Salt & Light.
Arthur Murray has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
The Zombie Mud Run finally gives people an incentive to exercise—the survival of their species. Amid forested trails, muddy creeks, and challenging obstacles, participants of this post-apocalyptic 5K face off to either save the human race or feast on human flesh, respectively. Clad in a flag-football belt with three flags that represent their brains, heart, and entrails, human participants race to get themselves and their fellow living athletes to the Green Zone, which grants salvation in the form of food, water, music, and beer. Meanwhile, costumed zombies—each of whom are either slow-moving “creepers” or fast-moving “leapers”—positioned along the race course pursue the humans to devour their organs or simply return that contact lens they dropped a mile ago. Human runners who reach the Green Zone with at least one of their flags survive.
The Boston String Quartet's talented team of bow-wielding virtuosos delights ears by offering programs that fuse classical repertoire with contemporary pieces. The Celtic Christmas Extravaganza regales listeners with a festive lineup of holiday tunes, including "Carol of the Bells," "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and "Silent Night." Singer Pan Morigan weaves her ethereal vocals through stringed melodies, with an octave-hopping range that caresses ears like a familiar fur hat. Originally opened in 1899, the Barre Opera House elegantly houses concerts in turn-of-the-century splendor. Recent renovations include soundproof windows and an advanced heating system, keeping patrons toasty during concerts and protecting the hall from rabble-rousing snowmen.
Allen Theatre, named one of Moviefone's 12 best local theaters in America in 2010, regales moviegoers with first-run Hollywood features and independent films from within a century-old building festooned with vintage movie posters. Local art complements the theater's art-deco style, which adds a classic feel to modern amenities including a Dolby Digital EX sound system, state-of-the-art projection lenses, and an advanced spoiler-alert system. Enveloped by the buttery scents that waft from a large popcorn, moviegoers will venture into the single-screen theater and feast anxious eyes on a current feature film or films of yesteryear, such as Wall Street showing November 15. Although not included with today's Groupon, viewings can be followed by a stop at MJ's Coffeehouse, where deli sandwiches, soups, and gourmet coffees help to fuel patrons and their automobiles, provided they run on gourmet coffees.