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Hamptons Arts Network to launch THAW Fest on LI’s East End

Theater, art exhibits, music and family activities are on tap for the weekend

Vocalist Greg Ransom performs with the Elton John

Vocalist Greg Ransom performs with the Elton John tribute band Bennie and the Jets at Bay Street Theater Saturday. Photo Credit: Bay Street Theater

Imagine rocking out with an Elton John tribute band, crafting inspiring banners or meandering through a sculpture garden — all in one weekend.

Locals and visitors to the South Fork can do that and more Friday, March 23, through Sunday, March 25, at The Hamptons Arts Network’s inaugural THAW Fest, which will feature a slew of performances, exhibits, tours and family events from the network’s 19 nonprofit arts organizations. The Hamptons-based consortium officially formed last year to boost collaborative efforts and promote the area’s artistic vibrancy.

“We all do really amazing programming, but it’s not necessarily well known outside the region,” says Elka Rifkin, director of the Watermill Center and one of the founders of the arts network. “The idea of an arts festival in the shoulder season of winter to spring came up. We just jumped on it.”

Organizations scheduled their own events throughout Southampton, East Hampton, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor and Water Mill. Cost depends on the event, though many will be free.

Here’s a peek at what to expect.

PERFORMANCES

Saturday night’s all right for an Elton John throwback as Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor presents the tribute band Bennie and the Jets at 8 p.m. The band has been performing hits such as “Tiny Dancer” and “Rocket Man” nationwide since the 1990s. Ticket are $30; call 631-725-9500 or visit baystreet.org

Laughs are on the bill Saturday, March 24, at 7 p.m. at Southampton Arts Center as members of the Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company take the stage for an improvisational comedy show ($20; 631-283-0967, southamptonartscenter.org).

Patrons also can attend Parrish Art Museum’s poetry reading Friday, March 23, at 6 p.m. ($12, 631-283-2118, parrishart.org) or Guild Hall’s modern performance of “Romeo and Juliet” — complete with teenagers, skateboards and guitars — at 7 p.m. Friday-Sunday, March 23-25 ($25, $10 students, 631-324-4050, guildhall.org).

“It’s meant to appeal to all ages, but especially a millennial audience, who will hopefully find renewed interest in Shakespeare,” said Andrea Grover, Guild Hall’s executive director.

WORKSHOPS & FAMILY EVENTS

The Hamptons International Film Festival will take an alternate approach to “Romeo and Juliet,” hosting a master class at Guild Hall at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 24, that will compare two film versions and delve into filmmaking techniques. $25, guildhall.org

For more hands-on family activities, you can decorate cookies and tackle collage projects Sunday, March 25, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center (free, 631-324-4929, stonybrook.edu/pkhouse). Take the kids to the Watermill Center Sunday, March 25, from 1 to 4 p.m. to create banners inspired by Word on the Street, a public art initiative by female artists and writers who craft political and poetic banners — many of which have graced Times Square (free, 631-726-4628, watermillcenter.org). On Saturday at the Watermill Center, fellows Anne Carson and Tania Bruguera, who contributed to the project, will give free presentations at 1 and 3:30 p.m., respectively.

“It’s a way to highlight the artists that are here as fellows, but also a way for us to support this project,” Rifkin said.

EXHIBITIONS & TOURS

Southampton Arts Center’s first all-female exhibit, “A Radical Voice: 23 Women,” runs through Sunday, March 25.

The contemporary art display is open all weekend, with a free one-hour curator tour Sunday at noon that will offer patrons “an insider’s view” of the exhibit, said Amy Kirwin, director of programs. For more information, go to 631-283-0967, southamptonartscenter.org

LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton ( 631-329-3568, longhouse.org) will offer one of the festival’s outdoor outings: guided tours of the 16-acre reserve and gardens at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday. Visitors will see various sculptures and might even spot a few daffodils in bloom.

“You can appreciate the design more, almost, when there are no leaves on the trees,” said Joi Perle, assistant to the director. “It’s special.”

THAW Fest

WHEN | WHERE Friday through Sunday at various location on the East End

INFO For a complete list of events, times, prices and venues, go to hamptonsartsnetwork.org

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