Restored East Arlington Gristmill to Become Performing Arts Center
Four acclaimed Broadway actors will spend the last week of October at the newly restored grist mill in East Arlington, rehearsing ‘Perfect Picture,’ a musical about the life of Norman Rockwell, just a few miles from the artist’s former home. The Mill now houses a performance space and is dedicated to fostering artistic collaboration. “After two years of renovations, I’m so excited to reintroduce the mill as an Arts Center to the community,” explained Dr. Joshua Sherman, producing artistic director – and a practicing physician at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. “Rockwell left an indelible mark on America and Vermont,” Sherman explained. “He was born in New York City and then chose Arlington as his family home, so it’s very fitting that we inaugurate The Mill with a show that explores Rockwell’s life and then take ‘Perfect Picture’ home to NYC,” added Sherman, referring to the October 31 concert reading of ‘Perfect Picture’ at Lincoln Center, part of the Broadway’s Future Songbook Series. Emmy Award-winner Eileen Bluestone Sherman wrote the book and lyrics, while her sister, the award-winning composer Gail Bluestone created the music. The cast of ‘Perfect Picture’ includes Tony Award-winner Lillias White, two-time Tony nominee Crista Moore and Tony nominee Mark Jacoby as Norman Rockwell.
The 1764 mill in East Arlington is one of Vermont’s oldest buildings, serving as a meeting place for a local rebel regiment during the American Revolution. It operated as a gristmill until the 1920s and is fondly remembered as the Candle Mill Village, a major tourist destination for over 40 years. It has been a successful antique center for the last 14 years.
Sherman purchased the property in 2014. “I spent a lot of time thinking about what to do with the mill and the two accompanying buildings,” he explained. “In the 1940s, Arlington was not only home to Rockwell, but several other famous Post illustrators. It was a great arts community. That inspired me to re-invent the property as an arts complex with a theater, sound studio, event space and gallery. I have years of work ahead to complete that vision, but The Mill is an exciting start.”
Re-invention is Dr. Sherman’s specialty. He was groomed in both the visual and performing arts as a child and enjoyed early success in the world of theatrical design. His producing credits include ‘The Odd Potato: The Broadway Album,’ featuring 20 Tony Award winners, including Jim Dale, Hal Linden, Donna McKechnie, Sutton Foster and Elaine Stritch and a web series of short musical films in the genre of classic movie musicals. He is currently developing ‘Antonio’s Song,’ a play inspired by the life of Antonio Edwards Suarez, co-written by Suarez and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Dael Orlandersmith. Joshua is a proud board member of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation and a GRAMMY voter.
“Both theater and medicine require good listening and communication skills – and most importantly, the ability to collaborate,” said Sherman. “It is critical that patients trust their doctors. Similarly, it is important for artists who are developing new works to feel safe as they experiment. It’s amazing to think that The Mill was once a meeting place during the Revolutionary War. Although there is still a lot of renovation work ahead, I ultimately envision the property as a safe space for artists to collaborate and create new and revolutionary ideas for the arts.”