Tag Archive | "Bay Street Theater"

Mason Cohen

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The Pierson eighth grader spoke about his interest in computers and coding, and how it led him and a friend to organize and host what proved to be a very popular Minecraft Adventure at Bay Street Theater last weekend.

 By Mara Certic

I’m a little embarrassed to ask this, but what is Minecraft?

It’s an open sandbox world made of blocks. You can play in multiple ways, either by surviving and collecting finite materials—obviously the world is very big so you have to go get them—or you can free-build, where you have an infinite amount of materials, and then you can build really, really cool things. And you can play different games in Minecraft. Minecraft updates come up every couple of months, and they add new content. But community games get added all the time. A new game came out last week and my friends like it a lot.  You go in and you’re put into a lobby with 13 other players. Each person is teleported into their own room and is given a topic. The first time I played the topic was “T-Rex,” so everyone went and built the best T-Rex in five minutes, out of any block. Then all of the players were teleported to other players’ rooms at the same time and then you vote on all the dinosaurs. The ratings are: super poop, poop, okay, good, epic and legendary. If some kid built a giant T-Rex knocking over a tree, you’d rate that “legendary;” if another kid builds just a green blob with black eyes you’d give it an “okay” or  a “poop.” Each of my friends has won matches, we’re pretty good at it. It’s a really good game and it really shows the creative aspects of Minecraft, as well as the fun community game side.

So is there a limit to what you can build?

There’s a maximum world height. Each block is measured on a 3D graph, so it has an x-value, a y-value and a z-value. Once the y-value hits 255, you can’t go any higher, and you can’t build below zero. But other than that, not really. For the Minecraft Adventure at Bay Street I made a big “Bay Street” sign for the world, I built two whales and an anchor.

When did you first start playing Minecraft?

It sort of  starts with my partner, Miller Croke, who goes to school in Southampton. He and my other friend Gabe—who was one of the contestants on Sunday—were the first to get Minecraft in like fourth grade, and started telling us stories about them doing whatever in their worlds and I became interested. I looked it up on YouTube and got into that, but I didn’t get my own computer until two years ago, so I didn’t get the game until then. Fast-forward to sixth grade, and Miller watched Season 20 of the Amazing Race, and he got the idea to make a game for Minecraft. So for Miller’s birthday, we all brought our laptops and made our own races, with obstacles and challenges, and then tried each other’s races. It was all very rudimentary, I mean we were in sixth grade, it wasn’t anything close to what it is now, but there was definitely the basis for it. And then he created one world, and we started having group Skype calls and playing altogether in the same world he created. Then for my mom’s business, Macaroni Kids, me and Miller built a little world with multiple games to play for an event, and then the winners would get real Minecraft-themed prizes. And we thought, oh cool, we can do Minecraft events! And then last week we got the chance to do the first ever Minecraft Adventures at Bay Street.

And so how do you think the first ever event went?

It went on the better side of things. There were at least a hundred people there and a lot of them came from up Island! I was talking to them and they were like “We drove an hour and a half to get here,” just to watch, not even to participate. We’re trying our best to do another one soon, but chances are we won’t be holding another Minecraft Adventure at Bay Street until the fall. But we’re going to be building and working on things in the meantime.




“Five Presidents” & “The Darrell Hammond Project” Added to Bay Street Mainstage Season

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Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater announced Sunday it has added two new productions to its 2015 Mainstage Season—both East Coast premieres.

“Five Presidents,” a new play by Emmy Award winning writer Rick Cleveland (“Six Feet Under,” “The West Wing,” and “House of Cards”) will be directed by Mark Clements and will run June 23 through July 12. Originally produced at the Arizona Theatre Company and by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, the funny and incisive drama is about the meeting of America’s most exclusive club—the ex-presents. Obliged to gather together on the day of Richard Nixon’s funeral, the four “exes” and one current Commander in Chief vent frustrations, revisit old grievances, and reveal the toll it takes on any person foolish enough to seek the highest office in the land.


The second new production added to the Mainstage Season is “The Darrell Hammond Project,” which will have its East Coast premiere at Bay Street July 16 through July 26. Written and performed by Darrell Hammond with additional material by Elizabeth Stein and Christopher Ashley, the production will also be directed by Mr. Ashley. Originally produced at the La Jolla Playhouse, the production stars comedian Darrell Hammond, best known for spot on impressions of public figures and celebrities like Bill Clinton on “Saturday Night Live.” In “The Darrell Hammond Project” he recounts the harrowing events that gave birth to his talent, on a “detective story of his own life” as he delves into the trauma and tenacity that made him an entertainer. Full of raw emotion, humor and plenty of the impressions that made him famous, “The Darrell Hammond Project” is the story of how a brilliant star rose from the darkest corners of human experience.

The Mainstage Season will still begin with the World Premiere of “The New Sincerity,” a new comedy by Alena Smith and directed by Bob Balaban. That production will run May 26 through June 14. The season will end with “Grey Gardens: A Musical,” directed by Michael Wilson, which will run August 4 through August 30.

“Bay Street Theater is expanding and growing, and we are excited to now present four productions on the Mainstage this summer,” said Scott Schwartz, artistic director for Bay Street Theater. “Both of the plays that we are adding to our season are personal portraits of complicated men. “Five Presidents” explores not only politics, but also the humanity in our leaders. Rick Cleveland is a writer who knows Washington, and his imagining of a meeting of five of our presidents is riveting. Darrell Hammond’s intimate look at his life in his new solo show delves deep into the dark side of funny, and is a theatrical and searing portrait of how this brilliant comedian found his voice.  The artists we have added to our season in Rick, Darrell, and directors Christopher Ashley and Mark Clements are visionary voices in the American Theater and I can’t wait to share their work with our audience in the East End.”

To purchase a 2015 Mainstage Season subscription, visit baystreet.org or call (631) 725-9500. Individual ticket sales will launch May 15.

Bay Street Names New Director of Development

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Kim Fink

Kim Fink

Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts has announced the hiring of Kim Fink as its director of development.

Ms. Fink comes to Bay Street from The Public Theater in New York City and has many years of experience working with a variety of performing arts, cultural, educational and social services organizations in the city.

In addition to her work at The Public Theater, her positions has included director of major gifts at Cambridge in America, director of individual giving at Big Apple Circus, and the major gifts officer at City Harvest. She has also managed donor programs at the New York Public Library and at Literacy Partners.

Ms. Fink began her professional life in costumes and textiles with positions in the Theater Collection at the Museum of the City of New York, in the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. She has a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and theater arts from Hunter College and a master’s of arts degree in costumes and textile studies from New York University. Additionally she has taught graduate l classes at NYU and also tutored English as a second language students LaGuardia Community College.

She is an avid theater-goer and a long-time yoga practitioner. Having spent summers on the East End of Long Island for the past 20 years, Kim said in a release she is delighted to be in Sag Harbor and a part of the Bay Street community. “The performing arts are my passion and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the growth and continued success of Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts,” she said.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kim Fink as our new director of development. Kim brings a long history of theater and work in nonprofit cultural institutions. As we move toward the 25th anniversary in 2016, we are well placed to move into the next phase of growth,” said executive director Tracy Mitchell in a press release.

Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts is a year-round, not-for-profit professional theater and community cultural center which endeavors to innovate, educate, and entertain a diverse community through the practice of the performing arts. It serves as a social and cultural gathering place, an educational resource, and a home for a community of artists.

Bay Street Theater Celebrates The King with Tribute Concert

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Gene Casey

Gene Casey

By Gianna Volpe

If Elvis Presley lives, he’ll be in Sag Harbor this Saturday for a celebration of his 80th birthday that will surely blow any fan of Rock and Roll – “King” or not –  right out of the water.

Two of the East End’s most beloved musical acts will take the stage at Bay Street Theater to pay tribute to a 20th century cultural giant who musician Gene Casey – who tops the bill alongside his Lone Sharks – claims to “think about everyday” in the leading song to his 2012 rockabilly record, “Untrained.”

“It’s not that I’m obsessed – or maybe just a little,” Mr. Casey sings in “I think about Elvis Everyday,” a song he said was borne from “one of those very absurd, funny things you find yourself saying in conversation” but one that is “very true” for the well-known local musician who keeps his Christmas lights lit through January 8 out of reverence for “The King.”

“Elvis is such a cultural icon because of what he did,” said the baritone vocalist. “He wasn’t conscious of it, but there’s something very pure about his original music because of a natural melding of influences that still resonates to today when people are mixing genres and being influenced by world music. Elvis was doing all of that quite naturally back in the ’50s without any kind of grand design. That’s just what he was.”

For Mr. Casey, this weekend’s show is not about paying tribute to a “King of Rock and Roll,” a misnomer the guitarist said is part of  “the ridiculousness and absurdity about Elvis that people latch onto,” distorting the soulful superstar’s grandeur into a caricature of gyrations, glitter and misguided claims that the handsome young Hound Dog himself invented Rock and Roll.

“Elvis never claimed to be the ‘King of Rock and Roll’,” Mr. Casey explained. “He wasn’t trying to be that. He was trying to be an all-around entertainer; that was his ideal. He wasn’t hung up on Rock and Roll. He wanted to be a movie star; he wanted to sing all types of songs. What I actually think, my own personal take on what he actually brought to Pop music, was the notion that a white singer could be sensitive and sensual because before Elvis all the white entertainers just stood there staring straight into the camera holding the microphone. It was forbidden to move your body and the irony was that Elvis really got all that stuff – all those outrageous moves, all those gyrations and the expressiveness in his voice – he got that from Gospel music, which in the South was very, very fiery and very emotional. That’s really what Elvis loved; that’s who his models were as far as Rock and Roll. He wasn’t so much a Blues man, but he listened to Black Gospel very heavily and I think that’s what was really new about him. He was a white singer who was singing with this churchy feel.”
Unlike some of his contemporaries, who misappropriated works by black musicians – Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was initially credited as the sole composer of his group’s first hit single “Surfin’ USA,” though the tune is actually Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” with different lyrics – Mr. Casey said Mr. Presley always gave credit where it was due.

“A lot of artists don’t have control over what name is put on a record label, but Elvis never had a problem with giving credit to anyone whether the artist was black or white,” Gene Casey said of this weekend’s rock idol of honor. “For a guy born in the Deep South in the ’30s he was pretty progressive. He had a great respect for black musicians. He was never derogatory…he was a sensitive, respectful person and his upbringing was very much about that. His mom really made him a well-mannered young man.”

For Jay Janoski, whose band The Vendettas will also perform at Bay Street’s Saturday night tribute show, it isn’t just Elvis’s “great voice and matchless stage presence” that made an impression on Mr. Janoski as a developing musician.
“His guitar player, Scotty Moore was hugely influential on every guitar player that I and many people my age listened to growing up, whether they are aware of it or not” said Mr. Janoski. “Clapton, Beck and Page – and later Mark Knopfler and countless others – were all fans and students of Scotty Moore’s guitar playing.”

Similar to Gene Casey’s appreciation of Elvis Presley is Mr. Janoski’s appreciation of Scotty Moore as musicians who both eclectically melded established genres while also bringing something entirely new to the table.

“Jazz, country and blues were all elements of his style,” Mr. Janoski said of Mr. Moore. “A record like ‘Hound Dog’ is a really early example of overdriven power chords, well before The Kinks. He also played with a lot of finesse. If the Punk DIY ethos stated, “Anyone can do this,” Maybe Elvis and Scotty Moore said, “You gotta work to get this good.”

Though Elvis himself may not actually be in the building this Saturday – conspiracy theorists will need to wait until 2027 for the unsealing of Mr. Presley’s autopsy report, which was ordered by and sealed by Elvis’s father for 50 years after his son’s death – both Gene Casey & The Lone Sharks and Jay Janoski & The Vendettas will absolutely be at Bay Street Theater this Saturday, Jan. 10, to perform at “Elvis 80: A Tribute to the King,” which begins at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $25 by calling the box office at 725-9500 or visiting www.baystreet.org

Bay Street Theater Announces “Grey Gardens, The Musical” Will Close 2015 MainStage Season

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A film still from the documentary “Grey Gardens” featuring Little Edie Bouvier Beale at her East Hampton home.

A film still from the documentary “Grey Gardens” featuring Little Edie Bouvier Beale at her East Hampton home.

Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater Announced last week it will stage “Grey Gardens,” a musical, as the third production of its 2015 Mainstage Season, which runs May 26 through August 30. “Grey Gardens” will open July 28 and run through August 30, with book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie. According to a press release issued by the theater last week, casting and the creative team will be announced soon.

“Grey Gardens” tells the story of Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis. The play is based on the 1975 documentary by Albert and David Maysles, a cult classic which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015 and inspired the HBO film of the same name starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. Set at the Bouvier mansion in the Georgic section of East Hampton, the musical follows a mother and daughter on their hilarious and heartbreaking journey from glamorous aristocrats to notorious recluses in a crumbling house filled with memories and cats.

“I am very excited we will bring the daring musical ‘Grey Gardens’ to Bay Street this summer,” says Scott Schwartz, Artistic Director for Bay Street Theater. “This is a story set in the heart of the East End and that is woven into the social fabric of our community. What a thrill it will be to see the lives of the Beales unfold onstage just miles from their now infamous home. This musical is entertaining and complex, featuring a terrific score and delicious characters. With this production, Bay Street will continue to share innovative, contemporary musical theater with our audience.”

Tickets to “Grey Gardens” are currently only available through a full subscription to the 2015 Mainstage Season. For more information, visit baystreet.org.


Hudson Galardi-Troy

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Hudson Galardi-Troy was bitten by the theater bug when he played Dill in “To Kill A Mockingbird” at Bay Street three years ago. Since then he’s gotten himself an agent, been in countless plays, and has again landed a part in this year’s production of the same play – but this time as one of the leading roles, Jem. The 11-year-old spoke to us about his love of acting and some of his hopes and dreams for the future.

 By Mara Certic

What was it about that first performance that made you want to keep on acting?

Well, playing Dill was my first real performance, so when I went on I realized it was really fun. I just get this good feeling when I’m on stage. With everyone watching you it can get sort of pressure-ish, in a good way. So I just said “I want to do more of this,” so we went into the city and got me an agent and then we were sending me out to some auditions. I changed agents a few times and now I’m with Abrams Artists Agency and they’re really good.

Your mom, Susan Galardi, played Miss Maudie in “To Kill a Mockingbird” when you were Dill and now she’s your acting and singing coach. How do you like working with her?

It’s fun. I mean, I get to rehearse at home, so it’s not like I’m with someone I don’t know, so I don’t hold back. Like if I’m getting a singing lesson, maybe some people would be nervous but since I’m with my mom it’s just like “Oh hey, Mom!”

Literature LIVE is designed specifically for middle and high school students. How has being in the performance helped you learn about the book?

Well when I was first in it, in third grade, my mom read me five pages of the book every night until we finished it, which took a long time. But even though there are some bad words, and it’s from a time that wasn’t very nice, I felt that I was learning about the time period way before we started learning about that in school. So when we ended up studying that time in school it really helped me.

How does it feel to be back in the role that got it all started?

It’s a different director so it has a different sort of take and the other actors are very different. Playing Dill in “To Kill a Mockingbird” three years ago was really the first time I was in a play. Since then I’ve been in readings in the city, I got offered to go on the tour for Broadway, around the country, I’ve done my mom’s theater camp, I did readings called “Ashes and Ink” and “The Silent and the Beautiful” and I did “Galapagos”—I was a tortoise.

Right now, what would be your dream role to play?

Well, I know I’m too young to play the role but I really, really, really want to be in “Les Mis,” as that Javert guy. I also told my agent I want to be on “Modern Family,” but kind of as a joke. I really want to be on a sitcom. I just auditioned for a show on Nickelodeon, it’s a TV show based on the movie, “School of Rock,” and the call backs are next week. It would be for two months in L.A.

How much time do you spend at home in Sag Harbor versus travelling to the city?

Right now I’m not going to any auditions unless it’s really, really big, because I’m in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and I don’t have time. But after that, after “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I’ll go to the city for maybe one or two a week.

How do you strike a balance between your acting and being a kid?

If I get offered a role we make a list of pros and cons, so like: you’ll get a lot of money, but you’ll have to stay away from your friends, stuff like that. But normally, when I get home from school I take a 20-minute break, so that can be reading or playing outside. Then I get all of my homework out of the way. And then after that I can have a friend over, and we can go outside or go swimming. I like hanging out with my friends, I surf, I snowboard, I play a lot of sports. And I like to swim, I really like to swim.

To Kill a Mockingbird will be at Bay Street Theater until November 29. For more information or to reserve tickets call (631) 725-9500.


Mockingbird Brings Literature Alive at Bay Street Theatre

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Thomas Schiavoni, Jemma Kosanke, Carolyn Popp and HudsonTroy in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Thomas Schiavoni, Jemma Kosanke, Carolyn Popp and HudsonTroy in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

By Annette Hinkle

Chloe Dirksen narrates as the older Scout in Bay Street Theater's "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Chloe Dirksen narrates as the older Scout in Bay Street Theater’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Getting kids to connect with great literature isn’t as easy as it once was. These days the simple book vies for attention in an increasingly competitive world against the likes of video games, online streaming and social media.

Fortunately, Bay Street Theater has designed a sure fire way to get kids excited about the classics. Each fall, the Literature Live! program takes a classic novel that is typically part of middle or high school curriculums and brings it to life on the stage.

Now in its 6th year, this year’s Literature Live! offering is Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The play runs November 7 to 29 with weekday performances for school groups and weekend shows for the general public.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is the story of Atticus Finch, a small town lawyer and the father of two young children, Scout and Jem, who becomes embroiled in controversy when he takes on the case of Tom Robinson, a local black man accused of raping a white woman. Passions and prejudice run deep in Depression-era Maycomb, Alabama, where the story is set. Atticus, a widower who is raising his children with the help of his housekeeper, Calpurnia, not only speaks frankly with them about the sensitive nature of the case he has taken on, but also tackles the issue of prejudice via the open hostility directed toward them all as a result, all while carefully avoiding the fostering of hatred and intolerance in his own children.

It’s a powerful piece of literature and director Joe Minutillo is in a unique position to turn it into a theatrical offering that is both educational and entertaining. For close to 35 years, he worked as a teacher in the Eastport/South Manor school district where he taught the classics, including “To Kill a Mockingbird,” to his students.

“If you took a poll of English teachers — and teachers in general — they would probably say this is one of the best novels to teach,” says Mr. Minutillo. “The narration throughout the story is so colorful, as is the way Harper Lee describes things. It’s almost impossible not to get the flavor of that time period in the south.”

“The thing about this play, it’s such a great opportunity to teach not just the literature part of it, but that time period of our history which is kind of ugly,” concedes Mr. Minutillo.

And it’s not entirely behind us.

Though the novel is more than 50 years old, Mr. Minutillo notes it remains as relevant as ever given the racial tensions that have boiled over in recent months in places like Ferguson, Missouri where an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, was killed by a white police officer in August.

“This is still happening,” says Mr. Minutillo. “I think teachers see that and realize the importance of it today. It’s not over. There is still so much work to be done on acceptance — whether it’s about race, religion or sexual preference.”

Because it is geared toward school-age audiences Mr. Minutillo has just 90 minutes to tell the whole story of the novel. For that reason, he has decided to rely on the narrator to fill in the gaps where characters and scenes can’t be included. In this production, that narrator is the adult Scout (played by Chloë Dirksen) who reflects back on the seminal events of her childhood and puts them into perspective.

It’s a bit of a departure from the script in which the Finch’s neighbor, Miss Maudie, is the narrator. But Mr. Minutillo felt strongly that because the book is written as a recollection of the grown up Scout, it made sense from an educational perspective to use her as the narrator’s voice.

“Everything I say is straight from the book – it’s the most gorgeous prose and so exciting to speak Harper Lee’s words,” says Ms. Dirksen, a resident of Sag Harbor who remembers reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” when she was 13. Though she hadn’t read the book since, the voice of Scout has stayed with her.

“There’s something special about the way this character is reflecting on her loss of innocence at a time when her world went from being quaint and small to the bubble bursting,” says Ms. Dirksen. “She comes to understand not just the darkness, but her father and what a hero he was.”

Atticus Finch is, indeed, one of the most iconic characters in American literature. Which means Scott Eck, the New York City-based actor who is playing Atticus, has some big shoes to fill.

“It puts a lot of pressure on the actor,” admits Mr. Eck. “It’s a lot to live up to from the literary, theatrical and historical standpoint. Atticus is a man who’s aware enough of the conditions of segregation to know what he’s up against.”

Yet he’s a character who is willing to stand up for what he believes in, even if it means putting his own children at risk.

“One of the great things Bay Street does is choose plays for their literary series to get the conversation started,” says Mr. Eck. “Theater is one of the best educators we have. If one student has his or her thinking changed by coming to this play, then it’s worth the whole run.”

“To Kill a Mockingbird” runs November 7 to 29 at the Bay Street Theater. The cast includes Chloë Dirksen, Cooki Winborn, Jemma Kosanke, Carolyn Popp, Rob DiSario, William Sturek, Jessica Mortellaro, Joe Pallister, Hudson Troy, Thomas Schiavoni, Scott Eck, Chauncy Thomas and Al Bundonis. In addition to weekday shows for school groups, public performances are offered at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. There will also be Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. on November 15, 22 and 29. Students are admitted free with a valid ID and adults are $25. Call (631) 725-9500 or visit baystreet.org for tickets.

Masters of the Telecaster Come to Bay Street Theater

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GE Smith

GE Smith

By Emily J. Weitz

Jim Weidner

Jim Weidner

To understand the jam that is set to unfold at Bay Street Theater this weekend, you must first understand the Telecaster guitar as an instrument. Introduced to popular culture in 1950 by Fender, this solid-body electric guitar broadcasted its sound in a way that no other instrument had. The Telecaster has been a choice instrument of Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, and George Harrison, and has contributed greatly to the sound and history of rock and roll.

Jim Weider, former member of The Band, will be one of the three Telecaster virtuosos playing on Saturday. He first heard the instrument in the 1950s.

“I saw it with guys like Jim Burton, who played with Elvis,” recalled Mr. Weider, “and Steve Cropper, who played with Otis Redding.”

He was drawn to the sound, which had a distinctive ring to it.

“It’s harder than a Gibson, though,” he said, “because it has a longer scale length. You have to work harder to get notes to ring out of it.”

He committed himself to the instrument, and has become one of only a select group of musicians to be endorsed by Fender. He explores the range of sounds a telecaster can produce.

“There’s the clean twang,” he said, “to the distorted feedback through classic Fender amps. What made these classic tunes is the sounds and tones of these instruments.”

Mr. Weider, who played with The Band for 15 years and has since played with a variety of groups including the Midnight Ramble Band with the late Levon Helm and Larry Campbell, first decided to put together a show devoted to the telecaster guitar just for fun.

“It was Roy Buchanan’s birthday,” he said, “and he really inspired me on the telecaster.”

Larry Campbell with wife and fellow musician Teresa Williams.

Larry Campbell with wife and fellow musician Teresa Williams.

Mr. Weider first heard Buchanan, who’s considered a pioneer on the instrument, doing psychedelic feed on the telecaster in 1971, and was blown away by it. So for Buchanan’s birthday one year, he thought he’d bring together a few great telecaster players.

“I called up GE Smith to see if he wanted to do it,” he said, “and being a total tele player and great musicologist, he jumped aboard, and it was fantastic. It started growing.”

GE Smith led the Saturday Night Live Band for ten years, and has also toured with Bob Dylan. Together, Jim Weider and GE Smith have done many shows together over the decades since that birthday party, and they’ve experimented with the third player. At Bay Street, they’ll bring in Mr. Campbell, a band mate of Weider’s from the Midnight Ramble Band and a master telecaster player himself.

Larry Campbell is a three-time Grammy Award winning producer who plays many instruments, including the Telecaster. He also toured with Bob Dylan and has played with other artists like Judy Collings, Levon Helm, Sheryl Crow, BB King, and Willie Nelson.

“GE is one of the best I’ve heard on the planet,” said Mr. Weider, “and Larry too. The Telecaster is great for country, blues, rock and roll, and R and B. so each of us pick four or five songs and we go from one to the next with some solos.”

The backup band, which was Levon Helm’s backup band, consists of drums, bass, and keyboards. Together, they play classic songs that really allow the telecaster to shine.

“It’s no pressure, not all on one guy,” said Mr. Weider. “There are enough players that we can really throw it around and jam. We always try something we haven’t tried.”

The Telecaster, Mr. Weider says, is an expressive instrument, and that’s what comes across in these shows.

“More than just playing the tunes and rocking it up,” he said, “it’s about getting the real tones. Telecasters cut through the sound. You can really hear them… You have to experience it.”

The Masters of the Telecaster will give Sag Harbor precisely that experience on Saturday night 8pm at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. Taylor Barton, a singer/songwriter who learned to play among the likes of Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia, will open for them. Tickets are $35 and are available online at baystreet.org or at the box office – 725-9500.


“Judy Gold: 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother” Comes to Bay Street Theater

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Judy Gold; Leslie E. Bohm photo.

Judy Gold; Leslie E. Bohm photo.

By Annette Hinkle

As a stand-up comedian, Judy Gold has gotten a lot of mileage out of Jewish mothers — particularly her own.

“I’m pretty sure I’m a comedian because of her contribution,” admits Ms. Gold. “I didn’t get a lot of affection, but she’s really funny, my mother, and says things that are so outrageous I’d be a fetal position if I didn’t laugh about it.”

Yes, the image of the neurotic, overprotective, self-sacrificing Jewish mother may be fertile ground for good humor, but Ms. Gold — A Jewish mother herself to sons Henry, 18, and Ben, 13 — wondered if there might be more to the matter beyond the punch line.

That part of the story is told in “Judy Gold: 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother,” Ms. Gold’s one woman show which she brings to the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor on Saturday, October 11.

“It’s the story of me becoming a mother,” explains Ms. Gold, an actress and writer who took home two Emmy Awards for writing and producing “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.” “Initially, I wanted to see how I fit into that stereotypical Jewish mother role. I was always criticized by the Jewish press for promoting a stereotype. But it’s not exactly a stereotype if it’s coming out of my mother’s mouth.”

So Ms. Gold and playwright Kate Moira Ryan hit the road in an effort to meet with a cross-section of Jewish mothers to see if their philosophies, motivations and relationships were similar to her own. Over the course of five years, they traversed the country talking to 50 Jewish women about their lives and experiences as spouses and mothers.

“We interviewed women all over and they were so not like each other,” says Ms. Gold. “It was an incredible journey, I can’t even tell you.”

Ms. Gold and Ms. Ryan turned those interviews into a book titled “25 Questions for a Jewish Mother.” Ms. Gold’s monologue, based on the book, premiered Off-Broadway in 2006 at the Ars Nova Theater in New York City. In it, Ms. Gold assumes the identity of many of the women she interviewed. The show won the 2007 GLAAD award for Outstanding New York Theater and while she is well-known for her comedic abilities, Ms. Gold notes there are some seriously poignant moments in this piece.

“It’s funny, but it’s also intense,” she explains.

Among the Jewish mothers Ms. Gold and Ms. Ryan met in their travels was a group of ultra Orthodox women living in Queens. Ms. Gold recalls that the husband of one of the women stood by the stairwell all evening listening to their discussion.

“When we were leaving, he said ‘I’ve known most of these women for over 40 years, and I feel like I now know them for the first time,’” says Ms. Gold.

The reason for that was simply because no one had thought to ask them the questions before.

“I feel it wasn’t like an interview to psychoan1alyze them, but an opportunity for them to tell their side of the story,” says Ms. Gold. “I felt like for the first time in a long time, if ever, these women were being asked about their lives instead of their kids or their husbands’ lives.”

One Orthodox woman shared a story about her daughter who was dating a man she didn’t approve of.

“She was so mean to the guy they broke up,” says Ms. Gold. “From the mother’s point of view this was the best thing she could do for the daughter.”

But when Ms. Gold interviewed the daughter, she told her that she never forgave her mother for driving the man away.

Mothers insinuating themselves in their children’s relationships came up more than once in her travels, and Ms. Gold tells another story of a mother who virtually disowned her son after he married and had children with a non-Jewish woman.

“She cut it off and sat Shiva as if they were dead,” says Ms. Gold. “A few years later, the mother was waiting in a doctor’s office with another woman who had little kids with her. She commented on how well behaved the kids were. The doctor came out and yelled for Mrs. Hoffman, and they both got up.”

“She realized those were here grandkids and that woman was her daughter-in-law,” adds Ms. Gold. “She never went to that doctor again.”

And she never talked to her son and daughter-in-law or saw her grandchildren again.

While the women all had very unique and personal stories to share, Ms. Gold found there was one common denominator among them all.

“When we did the interview at a home, they always had food,” says Ms. Gold who adds that the show also includes extremely moving stories shared by Holocaust survivors and their children.

It’s hardly the sort of material one would expect from a stand-up comedian, but Ms. Gold stresses that this monologue offers audiences a much different experience.

“I love doing standup, but I have more dimensions than just telling jokes,” says Ms. Gold. “In a comedy club you have to keep them laughing every 30 seconds. But when you go in a theater, people are sitting and ready to listen.”

And with “25 Questions For A Jewish Mother,” audiences will get an earful. While the show offers an in-depth look at one very specific demographic, Ms. Gold is pleased to report that it has universal appeal.

“So many people come up to me and say ‘I’m not Jewish, but I have the same mother,” says Ms. Gold. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s a story many people can relate to.”

“Judy Gold: 25 Questions For A Jewish Mother” is Saturday, October 11 at 8 p.m. at Bay Street Theater, Long Wharf, Sag Harbor. Tickets are $59 to $89. Call 724-9500 to reserve or visit baystreet.org.

Bay Street Theater to Make Sag Harbor Funnier this Weekend

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Joe Vecsey

Joe Vecsey, organizer of Bay Street Theater’s “All Star Comedy Show” this weekend.

By Gianna Volpe

When it comes to this weekend’s HarborFest, one “marina” in town will harbor chuckles and snickers rather than cabin cruisers and sailboats, and that is New York-based comic Marina Franklin, who will headline the first fall installation of Joe Vecsey’s “All Star Comedy Show” this Saturday, September 13, at Bay Street Theater at 8 p.m.

Ms. Franklin, a 15-year veteran of stand-up comedy, has appeared everywhere from Jay Leno to Chappelle’s Show. This weekend, she returns to Sag Harbor for her second “All Star Comedy” performance.

“I’ve also been there before working with Tom Papa, which was my first introduction to the theater,” said Ms. Franklin of her first visit to Bay Street. “Then Joe Vecsey booked me there last summer and they wanted to have me back, so I’m happy to return.”

Mr. Vecsey, another New York-based comic whose podcast “The Call Back” includes interviews with some of the industry’s brightest stars, said the upcoming event, which will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, reflects an expansion of the theater’s offerings.

“The person that came up with the idea was [Bay Street Theater's managing director] Gary Hygom,” Mr. Vecsey said about adding a second date to the annual “All Star Comedy Show.”

“He saw the show was getting more successful, so he said, ‘Why don’t we try one during HarborFest when people are in town and Sag Harbor’s more crowded. Then maybe you can get a DJ to incorporate music into it a little bit.’”

Mr. Hygom has long championed comedy at Bay Street Theater, according to Mr. Vecsey.

“Gary Hygom was the one who took me on when he hadn’t even seen me do comedy yet; the guy I’ve worked with from the very beginning,” Mr. Vecsey said of his creation of the show four years ago. “He really took a chance on the whole idea…I didn’t even need to rent the theater upfront, which is what you’d usually have to do for something like this.”

Mr. Vecsey, who will be the show’s least experienced comic performer at four years in the industry, said he is thrilled both with the show’s success and his ability to build a comedic bridge between Sag Harbor and the city.

“I’m really—obviously—happy that they would add a second show because it shows that it’s improving and becoming more successful,” said the 25-year-old stand-up comedian. “I’m also excited to bring comedy out there…With me being in the comedy scene in New York, I’m able to bring a very high caliber of comics…Not everyone can get certain names to come all the way out there.”

Mr. Vecsey, whose parents own a home on Shelter Island, said he initially sought to create the variety show to couple a quality venue with the rising stars of comedy in New York.

“I saw that the theater didn’t have a show for anybody who wasn’t a headliner, so I pitched them the idea,” he said. “This all star show features well-established up-and-coming comics that you may not have heard of or who are not necessarily famous just yet.”

Besides Ms. Franklin and Mr. Vecsey, comics who will perform at the theater’s variety show this Saturday at 8 p.m. include Akaash Singh and Giulio Gallarotti, comics who have both been featured on various MTV programs.

“As a kid I always wanted to try [stand-up comedy], but was too scared,” Mr. Gallarotti said of his long-standing passion for the oral art of stand-up. “Then while working in the city after I graduated from college, I signed up for a show and invited all of my friends so I couldn’t back out.”

That was five years ago. This weekend, the 28-year-old comic will perform at Bay Street Theater for his first time.

“I told Joe Vecsey I wanted to perform out there because when I was in college I used to go out to Amagansett all the time to teach tennis lessons,” he said.

Part of Bay Street Theater’s appeal to comedians lies in the mere fact that it’s a theater, according to Mr. Vecsey.?“The theater is such a cool, prestigious place to perform,” said Mr. Vecsey. “There’s not an overwhelming amount of venues that comedians like to perform at that are really nice and – obviously – Bay Street is one of them. No one who comes to the theater to perform is disappointed.”

Ms. Franklin received her master’s degree in theater from Syracuse University, which she said, makes her partial to theater-based performances, adding her career in stand-up comedy was born from a frustrating lack of theatrical outlets during her post-college move to New York City.

“I’m a person who’s always loved being on stage and I had people telling me I was really funny, so I veered off from theater and started doing stand-up,” she said.

Ms. Franklin, who has performed everywhere from South Africa to Australia, said her background in the fine arts make performances at Bay Street Theater a particular treat.

“Since it’s on a stage, usually the set is still there from the previous show, so that’s always fun because it’s not just you and a curtain,” she said. “And then the audiences that usually come to Bay Street come because they’re eager to see shows, so it’s not like in comedy clubs where people are out drinking and it may be a last-minute decision or they’re from other countries. Bay Street…is a little more localized to the Hamptons and people who are really into theater.”