Tag Archive | "Theater"

The Addams Family Comes to Sag Harbor Tonight

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Colleen Samot and Denis Hartnett as Morticia and Gomez Addams lead the cast in a rehearsal of the Pierson High School musical production of The Addams Family in the school auditorium on Tuesday, April 21. Photo by Michael Heller.

Colleen Samot and Denis Hartnett as Morticia and Gomez Addams lead the cast in a rehearsal of the Pierson High School musical production of The Addams Family in the school auditorium on Tuesday, April 21. Photo by Michael Heller. 

By Tessa Raebeck

A man wearing a white fur toga and an Einstein-esque wig is stroking something. Earlier, he was a tree, dancing around with branches alongside a flapper, a Native-American woman, a woman resembling Marie Antoinette, and others, all dressed eerily in white. The man is neither Socrates nor Einstein, but is in fact a “Cave Man Ancestor”—or, in reality, Pierson High School student Nick Knab. He is one of the many unnerving, yet strangely comedic, “ancestors” in “The Addams Family,” the latest theatrical production at Pierson High School.

Pierson’s take on the musical comedy will come alive this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, under the leadership of musical director Paula Brannon and producer Melissa Luppi, who also teaches sixth grade English at Pierson Middle School.

Based on the characters in the classic comic strip by Charles Addams, the show was first staged in 2009. Written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, it opened on Broadway in 2010 starring Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia.

The talented cast of Sag Harbor actors, musicians and stagehands was at school late in the evening on Tuesday, April 21, to work out the final kinks, which always seem to magically disappear come opening night. During the cast’s last run-through before Wednesday’s dress rehearsal—the culmination of near-daily rehearsals since February—students appeared from all sides in between scenes, expertly weaving among one another to pull props and erect elaborate sets.

Ms. Brannon designed the set and the costume concepts, with Ms. Luppi—“seamstress extraordinaire,” according to Ms. Brannon—in charge of costume construction. In addition to the creative duo, many hands are on deck to ensure the music, set and performances run smoothly. Pierson student Jennifer Hall is the assistant director, and her classmate Christen Heine is stage manager. Former Sag Harbor students have returned to their alma mater, helping as make-up artists and teaching workshops on props construction and various elements of entertainment.

Pierson chorus director Suzanne Nicoletti is the vocal coach for the production. Oscar Gonzalez, called the “Zumba king” by Ms. Brannon, is the choreographer. The tech director is Doug Alnwick, a shop teacher at Pierson. Some of the student actors also act in roles behind scenes: Shane Hennessy is the lighting designer, Paul Hartman is student choreographer and Zoe Vatash designed the playbill.

The play has the classic characters of “The Addams Family,” but with modern jokes about pat-downs by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), thyroids and healthcare, and even Jews living in Florida. The comic relief is not reserved to a few staple characters; the whole cast, from leads to extras, adds to the show’s humor and entertainment.

As in most tales, the plot revolves around love. Wednesday, the morbid daughter of the morbid family, has fallen in love with Lucas, the cheery son of a nice, “normal” family from Ohio.

When Wednesday, played by Rebecca Dwoskin, is pleading with her father, Gomez, begging him to act more like a Fred or a Joe in order to impress her new fiancé and his family, she tells him, “We’re who we are and they’re from Ohio.”

“Ohio—a swing state! Monsters!” replies Gomez, with an eerily on-point vampire accent portrayed by actor Denis Hartnett.

Morticia, played by Colleen Samot, swishes around the stage in an elaborate gown of black and crimson. Even with the knowledge that Ms. Samot is a high school student without an extensive rap sheet or a gang of ghosts, the audience will undoubtedly be intimidated by her portrayal of Morticia.

All the classic characters are easy to recognize as their singing selves in the play. There’s gargling, mumbling Lurch, played by Oree Livni, and creepily hilarious Fester and Grandma Addams, played by Matt Shiavoni and Shannon Keane, respectively.

In one scene, a giant set of wood and chains suddenly appears from behind the curtain. Gomez and Morticia’s son, Pugsly, portrayed by Emma McMahon in the classic black and white t-shirt, is on a contraption, holding chains that his sister Wednesday is using to playfully torture him.

Later, the curtains open to reveal the Addams house, complete with the white-clad ancestors—Yani Bitis, Hope Brindle, Alexandra Dudley, Natalie Federico, Jennifer Hall, Charlotte Johnson, Sofia Karamolegou, Zeb Kinney, Courtney Kinsella, Nick Knab, Phoebe Madison Miller, Rachael Miller and Zoe Vatash—crawling in and out of picture frames and acting as picturesque statues on podiums. In the corner, Kerrie Vila acts as a somehow charming “Thing,” sitting in a box as her hands dance on top of it.

After asking the audience for directions, the “normal” family of Wednesday’s love-interest, Lucas, portrayed by Paul Hartman, makes it to the Addams house. Lucas’s parents, Alice and Mal, or Audrey Owen and Shane Hennessy, are apprehensively in tow, dressed in beiges and yellows and slightly skeptical of Wednesday’s accessory choice: a crossbow.

“This is how they live in New York,” remarks Alice, decked from head to toe in yellow, when she enters the Addams house. “They spend all their money on rent and have nothing left for furniture.”

Show dates for “The Addams Family” are at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, Friday, April 24, and Saturday, April 25, with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, in the auditorium of Pierson Middle/High School, located at 200 Jermain Avenue in Sag Harbor. Tickets are available through the main office or by emailing agalanty@sagharborschools.org.

Hampton Theatre Company to Present ‘Time Stands Still’

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Kate Kenney, John Carlin, John L. Payne and Sandy York. Photo by Tom Kochie.

Kate Kenney, John Carlin, John L. Payne and Sandy York. Photo by Tom Kochie.

By Tessa Raebeck

While we often think of completed scripts as specific ideas that were long-brewing in the head then finally put to page, sometimes a new play can begin with an idea as simple as “A new play.” Donald Margulies started “Time Stands Still,” by writing that unassuming idea in his notebook, followed by “A loft,” and a series of questions that became a play framed in the extreme circumstance of the Iraq War, but cemented in questions that plague all relationships.

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Sandy York and John Carlin. Photo by Tom Kochie.

Presented by the Hampton Theatre Company, “Time Stands Still” will open Thursday, January 8, at the Quogue Community Hall, the second production in the company’s 30th anniversary season. Directed by Sarah Hunnewell, HTC Executive Director, the Tony Award nominated drama follows photojournalist Sarah Goodwin, who has returned home to Brooklyn after nearly being killed by an IED while covering the Iraq War. Sarah struggles to adapt to life at home with her partner James Dodd. A freelance journalist, James was also reporting on the war, but returned home before Sarah, traumatized by his own horrendous experience and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

James, portrayed by John Carlin, takes care of Sarah, who was hurt by the explosion. As the longtime couple struggles to adapt to a new life together, they are contrasted by the blossoming, promising marriage of Sarah’s editor, Richard Erlich, played by John L. Payne, and his much younger girlfriend Mandy, played by Kate Kenney.

The couple’s respective experiences at war helped to create the issues they grapple with once back home, but their struggles are inherent to many relationships; one partner wants to settle down and lead a “normal” life, while the other aches for the action provided by his or her career.

“It’s really a love story,” said Ms. Hunnewell, the director, adding, “The intensity of the jobs these people do has raised the stakes in their domestic situation.”

As their desired paths diverge, Sarah and James struggle to find a way in which their love can be enough to sustain a relationship that is no longer practical.

“You can have the best intentions and you can actually really love someone, and sometimes it still doesn’t work out. It’s this really beautiful, bittersweet aspect of just, life sometimes has other things in mind,” said Mr. Carlin.

The four actors, who are all newcomers to the company, and Ms. Hunnewell are working to find the truths of their characters beyond what the script provides, from where they were born to whether they took the subway or a cab to get to the stage that day.

“What every actor tries to do,” said Mr. Payne, a Long Island native who plays Richard, “is to make the person a real human being, and a real human being has lots of stuff that they carry around with them—they have history from their previous life, they have history from that day.”

Despite the traumatic circumstances surrounding the play, there is much humor found in the script, often in the form of Richard and Mandy, Sarah’s 55-year-old editor and his 25-year-old fiancé, who are having a child together. The trials of James and Sarah’s love are counteracted by the ease of the story’s other couple.

For Sarah, “this is the most insane thing she’s ever heard in her life,” said Ms. Hunnewell, “but he is incredibly happy, so it’s a question of priorities and what works for one couple and doesn’t work for another. It’s a study in relationships of all kinds.”

At first appearing to be the standard, happy 25-year-old bride-to-be that is oft positioned as the natural nemesis to an older female, Mandy challenges Sarah in a much more human, and intriguing, manner. The significance of Sarah’s career in her own eyes is heightened by the sense that photographing the war helps the situation by telling its truth to the world, but Mandy questions the substance behind seeing the bloodshed.

“I guess,” said Ms. Hunnewell, “it could be said about the value of anyone’s work—particularly for workaholics and for people who just put work above everything—is what any of us actually do for work that important? Are we achieving something? Is it changing the world for the better, is it not changing the world for the better, and if a job is as dangerous as hers, is it worth it?”

“Time Stands Still” runs Thursday, January 8 through January 25 at the Quogue Community Hall. For more information and special dinner packages, visit hamptontheatre.org or call 1-866-811-4111.

Comedy Improv Boot Camp at Guild Hall

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Participants of last year's Comedy Improv Boot Camp at Guild Hall.

Participants of last year’s Comedy Improv Boot Camp at Guild Hall.

By  Tessa Raebeck

Future thespians can hone their craft at Guild Hall’s Comedy Improv Boot Camp, an eight-week class that culminates in a “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” style performance.

Director, actor and teaching artist Jenna Mate uses fun and accessibility to train young actors in improvisation, an important tool for any entertainer. Ms. Mate uses games and exercises to help students develop characters and comic timing, improve confidence and enhance creativity.

The Comedy Improv Boot Camp meets at Guild Hall, located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton, on Thursdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. starting September 18, with a final performance at 7 p.m. on November 13. The cost is $275 or $250 for Guild Hall members. For more information, call (631) 324-0806.

“Viva Los Bastarditos” Premieres at Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater Lab

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bastarditos-thumbBy Tessa Raebeck

Coming out of Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater Lab workshop for up-and-coming East End artists, “Viva Los Bastarditos” is a new musical by Jake Oliver about two villains in Western Massachusetts who use a fake land grant to gain control over the poor citizens and tenants at their mercy.

The New York Times called Mr. Oliver’s past writing “proudly silly and prurient, broadly satirical and filled with sensationalistic gags that would shock your grandmother.”

In a  story of “the little people” rising up to fight “the man,” three rock stars unite, forming Los Bastarditos, “a music-based, costume-wearing People’s Revolution—to fight the would-be dictators and their army of rent collectors,” according to a press release.

“Seamlessly combining elements of golden-age musicals, vaudeville, bedroom farce, B-movie westerns and stream of consciousness surrealism, the show simultaneously honors the dramatic forms of the past while repurposing them into something uniquely modern,” the release added.

The musical is directed by Tony Award nominee Ethan McSweeney and features a cast of Broadway performers.

Free for all audiences, “Viva Los Bastarditos” is Tuesday, September 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall, located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, call (631) 324-0806 or visit guildhall.org.

East End Weekend: Highlights of August 22 to 24

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Dean Taylor Johnson, MARILYN. Courtesy Monika Olko Gallery.

Dean Taylor Johnson, MARILYN. Courtesy Monika Olko Gallery.

By Tessa Raebeck

Sick of the beach? That’s strange, but luckily there’s ample else to do around the East End this weekend. Here are our weekend highlights:

 

Introducing his latest body of work, Dean Johnson will show “Living Legends” at the Monika Olko Gallery, with an opening reception on Saturday, August 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The show, which features iconic figures in “living pieces,” of mixed media, always changing LED light panels composed of plexi-resin, pigmented inks, film and encaustic wax dyed with oil paints. The Sag Harbor gallery is sponsoring a fundraising event to benefit the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center‘s Southampton office as part of the opening reception.

The Monika Olko Gallery is located at 95 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call Art Curator and Gallery Manager Wafa Faith Hallam at (631) 899-4740.

 

Dougenis, Abstract Rubber Plant (Blue), c. 1977, watercolor on Arches, 25 x 13 inches. Photo by Gary Mamay.

Dougenis, Abstract Rubber Plant (Blue), c. 1977, watercolor on Arches, 25 x 13 inches. Photo by Gary Mamay.

At the Peter Marcelle Project in Southampton, Miriam Dougenis will show her early selected watercolors, with an opening reception on Saturday, August 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Known primarily for her contemporary oil on canvas landscapes, characterized by her unique style and the use of familiar locations around the East End, the local artist is also an award-winning watercolor artist. The exhibition, on view from August 23 through September 9, showcases examples of her earliest watercolors from the 70′s and 80′s.

The Peter Marcelle Project is located at 4 North Main Street in Southampton. For more information, contact Catherine McCormick at (631) 613.6170.

 

Before you head to Sag Harbor Saturday, stop by Marder’s in Bridgehampton where there will be free, live music from 3 to 5 p.m. A string trio in the garden will play classical music featuring Vivaldi, Bach and select composers. The concert is free of charge and all are welcome.

Marder’s is located at 120 Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton. For more information, call (631) 537-3700.

 

Stages presents “The Wind in the Willows” at the Pierson High School auditorium this weekend, with performances on Friday, August 22, at 7 p.m., Saturday, August 23, at 4 p.m., and Sunday, August 24 at 4 p.m.

Based on the English children’s classic by Kenneth Grahame, “The Wind in the Willows” follows the comedic story of Mr. Toad and his friends, McBadger, Rat and Mole, as they go on the classic, hilarious adventures.

Mr. Toad in his infamous motor car.

Mr. Toad in his infamous motor car.

Helene Leonard will direct the full-length musical production, an original version of the script that was written for television by her late father, Jerry Leonard. Mr. Leonard wrote the music and lyrics along with John Petrone, and there is additional music by Larry Loeber.

All tickets are $15. For reservations, call (631) 329-1420.

 

 

At Duck Creek Farm in East Hampton, Amagansett artist Christine Sciulli will show “Quiet Riot,” an immersive site-specific projection installation presented by the John Little Society.

The installation will be open to the public by appointment and Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 7 p.m. through September 20.

In her primary medium of projected light, Ms. Sciulli “asks us to consider the potential of simple geometry by projecting these forms onto a network of materials that fragment and expand on their structures.

The installation will be in the John Little Barn at Duck Creek Farm, located at 367 Three Mile Harbor to Hog Creek Road (enter and park at north access to Squaw Road) in East Hampton. For more information on the artist, visit sound and vision or vimeo.

 

BLACKOUT at Bay Street. Photo by Lenny Stucker.

BLACKOUT at Bay Street. Photo by Lenny Stucker.

In the second installment of the new BLACKOUT at Bay Street, Bay Street Theater will feature a cabaret evening of performers from its latest hit, “My Life is a Musical,” on Friday, August 22 and Saturday, August 23.

The cabaret performance is complimentary for those who attend the 8 p.m. Mainstage production of the musical and $15 for those only attending the cabaret at 11 p.m.

BLACKOUT, an evening of cabaret and comedy, will feature the performers singing both musical theater and rock songs. For more information on BLACKOUT at Bay Street, call the box office at (631) 725-9500.

East End Weekend: Highlights of What to Do August 15 to 17

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"Pont de Tournelle" by Stephen Wilkes is on view at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor.

“Pont de Tournelle” by Stephen Wilkes is on view at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor.

By Tessa Raebeck

Art, films, and alternative energy; there’s plenty to do on the East End this weekend:

 

“Water 2014″ opens at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor on Saturday, August 16, with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m.

The annual exhibition features contemporary and classic photography “depicting life in and around the most powerful force of nature,” said the gallery. Dan Jones, Karine Laval, Herb Friedman, John Magarites, Blair Seagram, Tulla Booth, Anne Gabriele and Jay Hoops will show their work at the gallery, which is located at 66 Main Street in Sag Harbor.

 

Furthering on your water weekend, visit the Parrish Art Museum for the Maritime Film Festival, a 70-minute screening of short film selections, on Friday, August 15, at 7 p.m.

The program includes a brief talk by artist Duke Riley, a live musical performance and a special sampling of Sag Harbor Rum.

The Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information, call (631) 283-2118.

 

Hosted by Alec Baldwin, the Hamptons International Film Festival presents “Last Days in Vietnam,” on Saturday, August 16, at 7:30 p.m.

The documentary, produced and directed by Rory Kennedy,  follows United States soldiers during the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, when the North Vietnamese Army was closing in on Saigon as the South Vietnamese resistance crumbled.

A question and answer session will follow the screening, which will be held at Guild Hall, located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, call the box office at (631) 324-4050.

 

The East End Climate Action Network will host its first annual Sustainability and Renewable Energy Fair on Saturday, August 16, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the grounds of Miss Amelia’s Cottage in Amagansett Village.

The event features exhibitions from leading companies in the sustainability and renewable energy fields, as well as informal lectures from energy and environment experts, local food and fun games and other activities for kids. Local artists will perform at the end of the day.

Tony award-winning John Glover will read "The Tempest" at two outdoor performances for the new Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative.

Tony award-winning John Glover will read “The Tempest” at two outdoor performances for the new Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative.

There will also be opportunities to get involved in local sustainability and climate change efforts, including solar energy consultations, beach clean-ups and membership sign-ups for local environmental groups. For more information, visit Renewable Energy Long Island.

 

Celebrating the launch of The Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative, Bay Street Theater will present two outdoor staged readings of The Tempest starring Tony award-winner John Glover as Prospero, on August 16 and 17.

On Saturday, the first performance is a VIP benefit held on a private waterfront estate on Shelter Island. The evening, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails followed by a 7 p.m. reading, includes a reception with the cast.

Sunday’s reading, which is open to the community free of charge, also starts at 7 p.m. at a thus far undisclosed location. There will be bleacher seating, although guests are encouraged to bring chairs, picnics and blankets. The reading will take place as the sun sets, with the stars coming out as Mr. Glover reads Shakespeare’s most beloved plays.

For more information, call the Bay Street box office at (631) 725-9500.

Review: “My Life is a Musical” at Bay Street Theater

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Photo by Lenny Stucker.

Brian Sills, Wendi Bergamini, Howie Michael Smith, Danyel Fulton and Adam Daveline in Bay Street Theater’s production of “My Life is a Musical.” Photo by Lenny Stucker.

By Dawn Watson

The musical is one of those things that theatergoers either love or hate. For some, there’s nothing more transcendent than immersing themselves in the combination of spoken dialogue, singing, acting and dancing. For others, the entire construct rings false, somewhat hokey and attempts and fails to push beyond the limits of suspending disbelief.

“In real life, people don’t burst into song,” a character critical of the genre said early in Act One during the sold-out Saturday night performance at Bay Street Theater. Exactly.

“My Life is a Musical,” making its world premiere in Sag Harbor, is one show that is guaranteed to make a fan of everyone who sees it. Gently poking fun of the genre, the musical comedy tells the story of Parker, played by Howie Michael Smith, a likable but shy everyman who hears and sees people excitedly singing, dancing and carrying on instead of what they are really doing, which is talking, walking, and acting normally. The rub: Parker hates musicals.

Turning the Broadway form on its ear, “Musical” allows those who watch it to feel very much that they are in on the joke.  Charming, clever, and full of heart, style and verve, the Adam Overett (he brilliantly wrote the musical comedy book, music and lyrics) and Marlo Hunter (she directed and choreographed) production is sure to be a smash. I predict that it will be the next big thing to hit the Great White Way.

The writing is tight and laugh-out-loud funny. The musical numbers are catchy and enthusiasm provoking. The pacing between serious and outrageous scenes is impeccable. The characters are likable and relatable. And the cast, of which there are no bold-faced names, is absolutely superb.

Smith in particular, a talented triple threat that looks like a blend of Jason Biggs, Ben Stiller and Bradley Cooper, is perfection as Parker. He’s the socially awkward underdog who audience members find themselves rooting for before he even opens his mouth, and then that much more so once he does.

Playing JT, his love interest, Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone is pitch perfect as a tone-deaf rock and roll band manager. She’s plucky and full of passion, just what Parker needs in order to grow and accept himself and his perceived flaws. Monteleone, who has a phenomenal voice, particularly shines in “Someone Else’s Song,” where she beautifully belts out that she can’t sing a lick.unnamed-2

Deeper level fun poking comes in the form of The Zeitgeist’s band lead singer, Zach, a pretty-boy hack who is the recipient of Parker’s musical-inspired songwriting talents—a Christian de Neuvillette to Parker’s Cyrano de Bergerac if you will. Justin Matthew Sargent, who starred in Broadway’s “Rock of Ages,” totally nails the intellectually challenged rock star persona, to great comic effect. He’s thoroughly watchable.

The most entertaining character was Randy, an overly dramatic 1940s-era film noir-esque gumshoe, who had the best lines and the funniest setups of the entire play. Robert Cuccioli, a veteran actor with considerable stage experience, hammed it up in a way that was beyond brilliant. Think Adam West playing himself as the Mayor on “Family Guy.” His fast-talking antics included insisting that Parker meet him at 1 a.m. at a bar called “Midnight” and at another called “The Corner,” which was located in the middle of the block. Cuccioli’s portrayal of Parker’s foil had me laughing so hard that I was crying many, many times throughout the night.

The multi-talented supporting cast—which includes Wendi Bergamini, Adam Daveline, Danyel Fulton, and Brian Sills—was amazing. Keeping count of the dizzying number of characters (though my favorite was Sills’s bellhop) and super hot quick changes was impossible but each was memorable and mesmerizing. And each and every one of actors in the show gave it with gusto.

Every single detail of this production—from the cheeky set to the cleverly utilized musicians, and far, far beyond—is an absolute winner. And judging from the very enthusiastic response of the audience on Saturday night, I’m definitely not alone in my thoughts. As the entire cast sings in the musical finale, “It’s the kind of show that I love.” Nobody could say it any better than that.

The Neo-Political Cowgirls Present “VOYEUR” at Parsons Blacksmith Shop in Springs

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The sneak peak of "VOYEUR" at Guild Hall in March. Photo by Tom Kochie.

The sneak peak of “VOYEUR” at Guild Hall in March. Photo by Tom Kochie.

By Tessa Raebeck

While many 8-year-old girls spend their evenings playing with toys or watching TV, Kate Mueth preferred to wander her neighborhood in northern Illinois and peer into her neighbors’ windows.

She was not looking to see anything depraved or risqué, she was merely people watching, observing a mother helping her son with homework or a family enjoying a meal at the dinner table.

“I loved watching people wash dishes or read a book, the most seemingly mundane things,” Ms. Mueth said on Tuesday, July 22. “I was trying to make sense of my world, I was trying to make sense of my home life, how people behave…am I behaving properly? Am I normal? Am I whacked out? … and I think some people would think I am sort of whacked out, but that’s why I make art.”

Ms. Mueth, founder and director of the East Hampton-based theatre troupe The Neo-Political Cowgirls, has transferred this childhood fascination into the company’s latest production, “VOYEUR,” which opens, Thursday, July 31, at the Parsons Blacksmith Shop in Springs.

Written and directed by Ms. Mueth, “VOYEUR” is a personal reflection on time, friendship and the transient notion of normalcy.

Photo by Tom Kochie.

Photo by Tom Kochie.

Ms. Mueth believes the reason many artists, such as herself, are continually driven to create something new is because they are trying to “figure it all out.”

“It’s a very, very personal piece, surprisingly,” the director said, adding she didn’t expect it to turn out so. “I think probably, ultimately, every artist creates something very personal without even necessarily knowing it.”

In “VOYEUR,” a young girl guides the audience in small groups around the blacksmith shop’s exterior. Through a series of short vignettes, they peer from outside through the shop’s windows, watching the story of the life of another girl, the guide’s best childhood friend, unfold.

A “theater art installation,” as Ms. Mueth calls it, “VOYEUR” lasts about 20 minutes per group and explores what theater can entail.

While the actor on the exterior remains a young girl, the girl on the inside progresses through her life, growing from a child to a teenager and eventually an adult, mother and elderly woman.

“It’s essentially about two little girls who are in love as friends are in love, as little girls can be in love. It’s not a sexual thing; it’s a total friendship, sensual thing,” Ms. Mueth said. “And one of them goes away and it could be that she goes away psychologically, she goes away emotionally or literally physically moves away.”

Ms. Mueth, careful to leave the piece open to personal interpretation, said from her perspective, the little girl on the outside still yearns for the friendship she shared with the one within. While the girl inside seems to move on, however, “her life is ultimately not fully realized in terms of joy, in terms of fulfillment.”

“It’s very nostalgic for me,” the director added, “from a friendship I had growing up at a very young age, from birth, into a friendship that was really intense, really beautiful, really connected. And it broke. And it broke through betrayal and it broke through misunderstanding and it broke right around sixth grade, which is a very tricky time anyways.”

The abandonment felt by that loss of her first friendship compelled Ms. Mueth to examine time and the effects when a love that comes from such an innocent yet intense beginning is broken.

Her theater work, she said, is “always an examination of life, of emotions, of happenings, of humanity. And how we deal with it, how it feels to be human, how it feels to survive certain things in our lives.”

Ms. Mueth relates to both the young girls, the one who moves on within the blacksmith shop and the one watching from without.

“I think that’s kind of what childhood friendship is,” she said. “When you’re in one of these closely bonded friendships, where you begin and where your friend ends is kind of impossible to see.”

For girls, Ms. Mueth said, a best friend, “that person that you can be with 12 hours and still want to spend more time with,” is practice for our relationships later in life, for lovers and marriage, “of how we relate and how we love and what we get from each other in terms of nurturing.”

“VOYEUR” examines the passage of time and the impact of growing up—and often apart—on that most intimate relationship with your first best friend, “somebody who you feel that bond with and you can just go and play and be in this imagination land; you literally are creating your world together. And that’s your world—you can’t do that with just anybody.”

“VOYEUR” is July 31, August 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, at 7 p.m. until 8:20 p.m. at the Parsons Blacksmith Shop at Springs Fireplace Road and Parson Place in Springs, East Hampton.  Tickets are $15 and can be ordered ahead of time at brownpapertickets.com/event/756705.

Bay Street Theater Brings World Premiere of “My Life is a Musical” to Sag Harbor

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A rehearsal photo taken at the New 42nd Street Studios in NYC with the cast of "My Life is a Musical:" Danyel Fulton, Wendi Bergamini, Howie Michael Smith, Adam Daveline, Brian Sills, Justin Matthew Sargeant, Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone, Robert Cucciolo. Photo by Barry Gordin.

A rehearsal photo taken at the New 42nd Street Studios in NYC with the cast of “My Life is a Musical:” Danyel Fulton, Wendi Bergamini, Howie Michael Smith, Adam Daveline, Brian Sills, Justin Matthew Sargeant, Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone, Robert Cucciolo. Photo by Barry Gordin.

By Tessa Raebeck

Parker has lived his entire life seeking solitude, trying to hide his affliction from the rest of the world. He doesn’t make new friends, he doesn’t have romantic relationships and he most certainly does not want to join the local chorus.

Parker, a straight-laced accountant, is suffering from a rare condition that makes his entire life take the shape of a musical. Bay Street Theater’s latest play, “My Life Is a Musical,” follows Parker’s struggle as he tries to navigate a world in which everywhere he goes people are singing, dancing, and going through life with an energy that is only found in musical theater—which he happens to despise.

The musical, written by Adam Overett and directed and choreographed by Marlo Hunter, “both real rising stars in musical theater,” according to Bay Street’s artistic director Scott Schwartz, will have its world premiere in Sag Harbor.

Director/choreographer Marlo Hunter, playwright Adam Overett and music director Vadim Feichtner. Photo by Barry Gordin.

Director/choreographer Marlo Hunter, playwright Adam Overett and music director Vadim Feichtner. Photo by Barry Gordin.

The play opens on a normal—and thus strange—day in the life of Parker, who quickly sees the order through which he controls his affliction turned upside down when his accounting firm sends him to work for none other than a rock band.

“Of course, it’s his worst nightmare,” Ms. Hunter said in an interview on Friday, July 18, “because he has to be around music all the time and he won’t have any idea what’s going on.”

With his company’s future hanging in the balance, Parker accepts the position.

In a structure similar to “Cyrano de Bergerac,” the 1897 play by Edmond Rostand, the play follows Parker’s struggle to discern between what is song and what constitutes a person’s inner thoughts.

“He hears the truth of their emotion in the song,” explained Ms. Hunter.

Although the proximity to music is what terrifies Parker, in the end, it is what helps him to see the value of his affliction.

“It’s about how this person struggles with and ultimately embraces the thing about him that he thinks makes him a freak, which is a very universal theme,” the director said.

“We all have things about ourselves that we feel don’t fit in or we’re not comfortable with,” Mr. Schwartz said. “This show explores that life from a wonderful, musical land.”

The cast, which Ms. Hunter called “sensational,” has appeared in celebrated shows including “Evita,” “Hair” and “The Lion King.”

It stars Howie Michael Smith as the confused Parker, and Robert Cuccioli, who plays the rising rock star Zach, with Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone and Justin Matthew Sargeant playing other the principal roles.

The ensemble, “the hardest working people in show business,” according to Ms. Hunter, features Wendi Bergamini, Adam Daveline, Danyel Fulton and Brian Sills. They play over 70 characters between the four of them.

“It’s pretty astounding what they do,” Ms. Hunter said of the cast, “and they have to sing, dance and have broad comedic ability—they were hard to find.”

The show’s music is as varied as the ensemble’s roles.

“We really run the gamut stylistically,” she said. “It’s not all just traditional musical theater. There’s some pop, rock in there.”

Through Mr. Cuccioli’s character Zach, who Parker hears singing like a musical theater star, Mr. Overett shows how musical theater moments get transformed into rock songs.

Mr. Overett, Ms. Hunter and Mr. Schwartz agree this is a show for both people who love musicals and people who hate them.unnamed-5

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people in previous readings or in our workshops who have said, ‘I don’t usually like musicals, but I love this,’” Ms. Hunter said, adding she thinks both sides of the audience will walk away from Bay Street with a love—or at least an appreciation—for musicals.

The show addresses the aspects of  musicals that bother people while celebrating them at the same time.

“The form of musical theater, there’s an aspect of it that is—it’s larger than life—and in some ways, that feels inaccessible to people, because it seems insincere in its grandeur. But that’s also what other people love about the form—that it requires such a suspension of disbelief,” Ms. Hunter said.

“The beauty of the way Adam has written this show,” she added, “is that it may not seem realistic but he’s written us characters who are very real and very accessible and a story line that is incredibly heartfelt.”

“My Life is a Musical,” Ms. Hunter said, delivers the big production and entertaining numbers of a musical, but with “real heart and a strong core.”

“This is the kind of show that in your career you hope you find and I’ve been lucky enough to have found it,” the director said.

“My Life is a Musical” opens Tuesday, July 29, and runs through Sunday, August 31, at the Bay Street Theater, located at the corner of Bay Street and Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. For more information or tickets, call (631) 725-9500 or visit baystreet.org.

Tom Stoppard’s “Travesties” Brings Belly Laughs to Bay Street

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Richard Kind in "Travesties" at Bay Street. Photo by Jerry Lamonica.

Richard Kind in “Travesties” at Bay Street. Photo by Jerry Lamonica.

By Tessa Raebeck

Strip teases, pie fights and Lenin. The three don’t normally go hand in hand, but playwright Tom Stoppard brings them together in “Travesties.”

The Tony award-winning comedy is running through July 20 as the second production in Bay Street Theater’s main stage season, called a “season of revolution.”

The play is told through the memory of Henry Carr, an elderly man who was a British consul in Zurich in 1917 during World War I. Mr. Carr reflects on his participation at the time in an amateur production of Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest, in which (in Mr. Stoppard’s take on it) he worked alongside some of the early 20th century’s most influential figures: James Joyce, Vladimir Lenin and Tristan Tzara.

“What it really gets at,” Bay Street’s artistic director Scott Schwartz said of the play when the season was first introduced this winter, “is the sort of passion and fire and revolutionary spirit of these guys as they’re trying to meet girls and trying to have a great time in Zürich at this time.”

When you think of Lenin in 1917, in the heat of the empire’s collapse and subsequent community revolution in Russia, you don’t necessarily imagine him spending his time trying to meet girls, but Mr. Stoppard expertly humanizes even his most notable characters with humor.

“It’s one of the most bracing theatrical challenges to be a part of—full of brilliance and fun—overflowing with ideas and using all the elements; knockabout humor, song and dance, the ‘theatre’ of theatre, to create a whirligig of intriguing ideas,” Gregory Boyd, the artistic director for the Alley Theatre in Houston, who is directing Bay Street’s production, said in an email interview.

Photo by Jerry Lamonica.

Photo by Jerry Lamonica.

“There isn’t another play like it—unless it’s another Stoppard play. He is unique,” added the director.

A Czech-born British playwright, Mr. Stoppard was 2 years old when he moved with his family to England to escape the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. He was knighted in 1997 and the next year won an Academy Award for “Best Original Screenplay” for “Shakespeare in Love,” which he wrote with Marc Norman. He has also won four Tony Awards.

Written in 1974, “Travesties” has been performed in productions across the world. The play won the United Kingdom’s Evening Standard Award for “Best Comedy of the Year” in 1974 and in 1976 both a Tony Award and a New York Critics Award for “Best Play.”

“Stoppard,” Mr. Boyd said, “is writing about art and artists, revolution and revolutionaries and how they collide. James Joyce, Lenin and Dadaist artist Tristan Tzara were indeed in Zürich during World War I, but it is the playwright’s genius that brings them all together through the eyes and erratic memory of a minor civil servant, as he (Henry Carr) looks back over his life.”

“It’s dealing with the whole question of how art and change interact in our lives,” said Mr. Schwartz, adding that “Travesties” is the “centerpiece” of Bay Street’s summer season.

Having directed or produced over 100 new productions from writers as varied—and renowned—as Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee, Mr. Boyd is no stranger to the stage. There’s already one “Travesties” production under his belt; he directed the comedy several years ago at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut.

“He’s a brilliant director,” Mr. Schwartz said. “I’m so excited to bring his vision to the theater.”

As Bay Street’s artistic director, he added, he would like to “bring great directors in from around the country and perhaps eventually around the world.”

Richard Kind, noted for his roles on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Spin City,” returns to Bay Street, where he serves on the Board of Trustees, for his role as Henry Carr, who, like the legendary figures he hangs out with, was a real person in Zürich at the time.

Actors Michael Benz, Carson Elrod, Aloysius Gigl, Isabel Keating, Julia Motyka, Emily Trask and Andrew Weems are also in the cast.

“The cast we have is a wonderful group—and working with them on this marvelous script is the most enjoyable part of it,” said Mr. Boyd. “Stoppard asks that the actors be comedians, but capable too of giving full voice to the brilliant language.”

Photo by Jerry Lamonica.

Photo by Jerry Lamonica.

Credited for shaping stream of consciousness and other techniques of the modernist avant-garde movement, Joyce is in the middle of writing Ulysses during the time of the play. Tzara, a French avant-garde poet, essayist and performance artist, is busy creating art and poetry that gain him notoriety as a leader of Dadaism and Lenin is planning to overthrow one of the world’s largest empires, which has been in power for nearly 200 years.

But then Mr. Stoppard comes in, and—although the figures are still their distinguished selves—they are flanked by the wild theatricality of his writing, with an almost burlesque style of humor.

“I love the Bay Street Theater space—and ‘Travesties’ uses it in an interesting way, I think. From toy trains to pie fights, there are a lot of moments that come together in a fresh way,” said Mr. Boyd.

“It’s a wonderful conceit of a ‘small’ man hoping to achieve some meaning in his life through his association with these three giants,” the director added. “The play is full of comedy, gorgeous language, exhilarating ideas—and some real heart, too. That combination is very hard to resist.”

“Travesties” opened Tuesday, June 24, and runs through July 20 at Bay Street Theater, located on the corner of Main and Bay streets in Sag Harbor. General admission tickets range in price from $60.75 to $75. The “Student Sunday” matinee allows high school and college students to attend the 2 p.m. matinee on Sundays for free. A $30 ticket is available for those under age 30. For tickets and more information, visit baystreet.org or call the box office at (631) 725-9500.