Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Upcoming Plays for June 2010

This month we note the beginning of the summer theatre season in New England. Go, and enjoy.

At the Arundel Barn Playhouse in Kennebunkport, Maine: The New England premiere of “Nunset Boulevard: Nunsense at the Hollywood Bowl” June 8th-26th.

More unholy hijinks from the Little Sisters of Hoboken as they bring us their 7th heavenly gig – this time in Tinseltown. The Little Hobos raise comic mayhem and tons of ‘Nun fun’ in this perfect 300 game! Nunsense is habit-forming, and it would be a sin to miss the latest Nunsense nonsense!

At the Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield, Mass. from June 17, 2010 - July 17, 2010: “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler from an adaptation by Christopher Bond. Musical Direction by Darren Cohen, directed by Julianne Boyd.

At the Cape Playhouse, Dennis, Massachusetts:

“Tea at Five” starring Stephanie Zimbalist as Katharine Hepburn, running June 7th through June 19th.

At the Gloucester Stage Company, Gloucester, Massachusetts: “Table Manners” by Alan Ayckbourn runs from June 17th through July 3rd. Directed by Eric C. Engel, the cast includes Steven Barkhimer, Lindsay Crouse, Paula Plum, and Richard Snee.

Hackmatack Playhouse in Berwick, Maine presents Rogers & Hammerstein’s musical “Cinderella” runs from June 24th through July 10th.

At the Ivoryton Playhouse, Ivoryton, Connecticut, the perennial favorite, “Arsenic and Old Lace” by Joseph Kesselring, from June 9th through June 27th.

A delightful evening of murder and mayhem with eccentric aunts, crazy nephews and bodies in the basement!

At the Mt. Washington Valley Theatre Company in North Conway, New Hampshire: Meredith Wilson’s delightful “The Music Man” from June 30th through July 10th.

New Century Theatre in Northampton, Massachusetts: “Noises Off” by Michael Frayn, directed by Sam Rush, runs June 17th through 26th.

NOISES OFF peeks backstage at the ridiculous antics of the cast and crew of NOTHING ON. We follow the English company from dress rehearsal to the end of the ten week run, each act revealing more hilarious cast drama, missed cues, and slamming doors, while the show is constantly upstaged by the noises off in the wings. The 1982 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy winner, this is the ultimate backstage farce. Join some of the original cast as we kick off our 20th year with a sidesplitting comedy that must be seen to be believed.

At The Newport Playhouse in Newport, Rhode Island: “Suitehearts” runs June 24th through August 1st.

A young couple checks into a New York hotel for a romantic weekend. An older couple has inadvertently booked the same honeymoon suite! After they scuffle over the accommodations, no one is where or with whom they should be. With plenty of sight gags and one liners, this play will have you laughing all the way through!

The Peterborough Players in Peterborough, New Hampshire presents:
“Once in a Lifetime” by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman runs June 9th through 13th.

Ascending Stars Project - Some of the area’s best high school actors will work alongside professional actors and be directed by Artistic Director Gus Kaikkonen. Once in a Lifetime is a rollicking tale of three down and out troupers who decide to head for Hollywood and try their luck with the newly invented talkies.

The Summer Theatre of New Canaan in New Canaan, Connecticut presents Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” in a “modern day highly charged adaptation in our new intimate outdoor protected theater.” Preview June 18, 7:30 pm, show runs from June 19th through July 11th.

At The Bushnell in Hartford, Connecticut, George Gershwin’s classic “Porgy and Bess.”

The drama of love, murder, and hope on Catfish Row springs to teeming life in a dazzling 75th anniversary tour of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess coming to The Bushnell June 8-13 in a brand new production with riveting choreography and glamorous costumes. Approved by the Gershwin Estate, produced by veteran opera impresario Michael Capasso, General Manager of New York’s Dicapo Opera Theatre, and in association with noted producer Willette Murphy Klausner, (Three Mo’ Tenors). Porgy is directed by the brilliant African American Charles Randolph-Wright (Mama I Want To Sing). Don’t miss this celebration of America’s most beloved opera, with a stellar all African American cast of sensational performers.

At The Huntington Theatre, Boston University, “Prelude to a Kiss” by Craig Lucas, directed by Peter DuBois running currently through June 13th.

A whirlwind romance. A storybook wedding. A kiss for the bride that suddenly changes everything. Craig Lucas (The Light in the Piazza, Longtime Companion) explores the enduring power of love and the nature of commitment in this breathtaking and life-affirming comedy directed by Artistic Director Peter DuBois.

At The Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit, Maine “The Drowsy Chaperone” runs from June 9th through June 26th.

Be transported to a magical, wonderful world in this new musical comedy that was the darling of the Tony Awards, winning the most statues in 2006, including Best Sets and Costumes, which will be featured in the Ogunquit Production!

It stars Bravo’s top-rated celebrity, Carson Kressley along with Georgia Engel reprising her Broadway role! Georgia is best known as Georgette from the smash TV hit “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

The hilarious show-within-a-show begins when a die-hard musical fan plays his favorite cast album, a 1928 smash hit called “The Drowsy Chaperone” and the show magically bursts to life. Audiences are instantly immersed in the glamorous, hilarious tale of a celebrity bride and her uproarious wedding day, complete with thrills and surprises that take both the cast and the audience soaring into the rafters. Don’t miss the show critics announced as “delightful and sparkling entertainment!” You’ll be over the moon!

Emmy-winning television star, celebrity stylist, author and fashion designer, Carson Kressley is about to make his theatrical debut at the Ogunquit Playhouse, alongside twice-Emmy nominated actress Georgia Engel, in the multi-Tony Award winning musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone”. Kressley is cast as the “Man in Chair,” an obsessive fan of old musicals who imagines performers coming to life in his shabby apartment whenever he plays one of his favorite cast recordings. Throughout the show the musical bursts to life as the Man in Chair continuously brings the audience in and out of the fantasy.

At The Ridgefield Theater Barn in Ridgefield, Connecticut, “The Memory of Water”, written by Shelagh Stephenson, directed by Sherry Asch runs June 4th through June 26th.

After years of separation, three sisters come together for the funeral of their mother, finding that each of their memories of events in their lives are very different. These different recollections force them to confront their perceptions with introspection and humor. The play asks searching questions, such as who are we without our memories. While it remains firmly in the genre of family comedy, what makes this play so captivating, is the way it reveals emotional pain and complexity beneath the outward facade.

At The Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut - “Dinner With Friends”
runs June 1st to June 19th.

Karen & Gabe and Beth & Tom, couples who have been friends for years, participate in all the familiar and comfortable rituals of shared vacations, good conversation and great food—so when Tom abruptly walks out on Beth, it threatens more than just their marriage alone. A Pulitzer Prize-winning play that explores the difficulties of divorce, even when it isn’t your own.

At the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, Massachusetts: “It’s Judy’s Show:
My Life as a Sitcom” runs from June 23rd through July 4th. Written by Judy Gold and Kate Moira Ryan, with original music by Judy Gold, lyric by Kate Moira Ryan and Judy Gold, additional material by Eric Kornfeld and Bob Smith. Directed by Amanda Charlton.

Building on the success of her show 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother, funny-woman Judy Gold returns to the stage in this hilarious look at her amazing life through the lens of the classic sitcoms of her youth. With multimedia, original music, laughter, and love, Judy shows us how she balances family and ambition in a world where she sometimes does not fit.

At The Winnepesaukee Playhouse at Weirs Beach, New Hampshire - “Educating Rita” by Willy Russell runs June 23rd through July 3rd.

Tutor becomes student in this endearing comedy. Professor Frank Bryant withdraws from his students and passes his days in his stuffy office clutching a bottle of whiskey. That is, until the arrival of spunky hairdresser Rita whose thirst for knowledge turns his world upside down.

Theatre by the Sea in Matanuck, Rhode Island presents “A Chorus Line” June 4th through June 20th. Music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, book by James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante, conceived by Michael Bennett.

On a bare stage, casting for a new Broadway musical is almost complete.
It’s what they’ve worked for — with every drop of sweat, every hour of training, every day of their lives, it’s the one opportunity to do what they’ve always dreamed of - Not to be the star, but to get a job on the line. From funny to heartbreaking, these 17 dancers share the stories of their lives and when they’re done, so is the audition, and the final chorus line is chosen. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Musical.

If you happen to see any of these shows, come back and give us your review.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nor'eastern Playwrights' Showcase - Vermont ART

Last week I was privileged to take part in the Nor’eastern Playwrights’ Showcase at the Vermont Actors’ Repertory Theatre in Rutland, Vermont. As any playwright can tell you, work-shopping a script directly with the input of the director and actors is an enormously beneficial and inspiring experience. We writers have a tendency to hole ourselves up in our caves too much. The creative and emotional stimulation of an experience like this is enough to make an introvert like me weep with the relief of an exile suddenly stumbling upon her lost tribe.

The intensive rehearsals were held Thursday and Friday, and the show was put on at the Paramount Theatre Brick Box in Rutland on Friday and Saturday. Along with my one-act play, “In Memory of Trixie Gazelle”, two other one-act plays were produced. These were “The Bad Habit” (soon to be published by Original Works Publishing) by Constance Humphrey Egan, and “The Revision” by Alan L. Steinberg. I was very impressed by the other two plays and so was the audience.

I’d like to thank ART’s producing directors for this opportunity: Ilene Blackman, Sandra Gartner, and Peter Marsh, and especially the director of my play, Bonnie Pritchard, whose insight was very important and truly helpful to me.

I’d like to acknowledge the cast, who were so kind, and so terrifically funny: Winnie Denis, Wheaton Squier, John Papais, Sandy Gartner, Tom Smith, and Laura Steere.

The Holiday Inn Rutland/Killington provided complimentary accommodations for the out-of-town playwrights, and many thanks to the staff and management for their support of the Vermont Actors' Repertory Theatre.

Thanks also to the audience, not only for their warm reception and their participation in the question-and-answer part of the evening, but just for risking a dime on something new and unknown. That’s a pretty brave thing these days.

If you happen to stumble upon an ad for some new play, musical, or one-acts at a theater, or community center, or barn in your hometown this summer, you might want to take a chance on something new and unknown, too. You and me, we need to climb out of our comfort zones once in a while. You never know. You might find your lost tribe.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: "The Fantasticks" at The Majestic Theater

The Majestic Theater of West Springfield, Massachusetts is currently featuring “The Fantasticks”, which runs through May 23rd. This unique musical, noted as much for its longevity on Broadway as for its simple staging, launched the careers of many young actors and actresses in its record-breaking 42-year run.

The simple allegorical story, featuring elements of traditional musical theatre, commedia dell'arte and vaudevillian gusto, begins and ends with the iconic “Try to Remember”, sung here by William Thomas Evans, who plays The Narrator and sometimes bandit, El Gallo. He has a smooth and reasonant baritone, and masterfully commands the stage with his voice and his sly comedic timing.

Emily Reed plays The Girl, and P.J. Adzima plays The Boy, who fall in love. Both Ms. Reed and Mr. Adzima are high school students, but display mature talent that promises a bright future. Ms. Reed’s high soprano, with a delightful vibratto effect, adds a distinctive sound to the otherwise all-male cast. Mr. Adzima’s dark-rimmed glasses, his haircut, and street clothes drew one in immediately to the era of the early 1960s that gave birth to “The Fantasticks.” His infectious grin seems innocence captured.

Mitch Giannunzio is The Boy’s Father, and James Emery is The Girl’s Father, at times comrades in a plot to trick their children into marrying, and other times enemies. The gentlemen play well off each other, as well as harmonizing, sharing with each other their frank irritation and expaseration with their children.

John Thomas Waite stands out at The Old Actor, a flamboyant, befuddled thespian, whose faithful sidekick is Roger Patnode as deadpan The Man Who Dies. Their slapstick episodes brought laughter from the audience, and also much guessing as to how they made their entrances and exits from a trunk.

Tom Knightlee plays The Mute, deftly on hand in all scenes to provide props and create the mood, or a wall, when needed.

The show is directed by Rand Foerster, with Amy Roberts-Crawford as the musical director. Set designer of the traditional minimalist set invoking a traveling actor’s wagon was Greg Trochlil. Costumes, particularly effective and evocative from pirate costumes to Shakepearan ensembles, to the color combinations of the fathers and their children, were by Elaine Bergeron.

For more on The Masjetic Theater and this delightful production, have a look at this website.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

On the Boards and Riding the Rails

Playwright and Connecticut native Eugene O’Neill probably arrived in Provincetown, Massachusetts on the tip of Cape Cod by train when he first met up with the Provincetown Players. He wrote in his Nobel Prize autobiographical note that as the son of a stage actor:

First seven years of my life spent mostly in hotels and railroad trains, my mother accompanying my father on his tours of the United States….

In celebration of National Train Day this Saturday, we might observe that for much of the 20th Century, theatre was brought to most small towns and large cities by train. When Gertrude Lawrence played the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, or when Dion Boucicault played at the Boston Museum, they arrived by train. When Joseph Cotten played at the summer theater in Surrey, Maine, a young apprentice named Henry Fonda picked up his trunk at the railroad depot.

Much later on theaters which had been habitually been built close to train stations developed into large entertainment complexes built by interstate highways, but our formative years of theatre in this country have a lot to do with train travel.

Ruth Gordon, in her My Side - The Autobiography of Ruth Gordon (Harper & Row, NY 1976) recalls the amazement on first taking the ultra swank Twentieth Century Limited from New York to Chicago, a step up from the days of rattling train coaches and butcher boys hawking sandwiches in the aisle,

“Memories of damp linen handerkerchiefs on our faces to keep the cinders off were a thing of the past.”

We have another more whimsical episode on the train called the Twentieth Century Limited when John Barrymore rode the rails to his next gig (referred to last year in this Another Old Movie Blog post). Biographer John Kobler writes in his biography of John Barrymore, Damned in Paradise - The Life of John Barrymore (Athenaeum, NY 1977):

“Ensconced in his stateroom aboard the eastbound Twentieth Century, John sent for two Pullman porters, old friends from previous trips. Handing one of them a book, he explained, ‘Now, this is really the skull of Yorick and you are the grave digger.’ And to the other, ‘You are Polonius.’ Fed his cues in this fashion, he rehearsed himself all the way across the continent.”

This Saturday marks National Train Day, sponsored by Amtrak. For more on National Train Day, have a look at this website.