Tag Archive | "Theater"

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.

Pierson Cast of “A Chorus Line” Wins “Best Ensemble” on the East End at the 2014 Teeny Awards

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Pierson's production of "A Chorus Line" took home the highest award, "Best Ensemble," at the 2014 Teeny Awards.

Pierson’s production of “A Chorus Line” took home the highest award, “Best Ensemble,” at the 2014 Teeny Awards. Photo by Zoe Vatash.

By Tessa Raebeck

A testament to both their talent and their teamwork, the cast of “A Chorus Line” at Pierson High School took home the highest honor at the 2014 Teeny Awards, “Best Ensemble.”

Held Sunday, June 8, at Longwood High School, the Teeny Awards are put on by the East End Arts Council to recognize the talent of local actors, musicians, technicians and all other artists of the theater.

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Photo by Zoe Vatash.

“As ‘A Chorus Line’ is a musical about the ensemble–about them as individuals, who make up the chorus as a unit–this is the ultimate compliment to our group,” Pierson Theatre Director Paula Brannon said. “It means we did it right.”

“As their director, I am extremely proud of these young thespians for not just their talent, but [their] dedication and extremely hard work as a unit,” said Ms. Brannon. “They were truly an ensemble and we are honored to have been recognized for that work.”

 

For a full list of the Teeny Awards taken home to Sag Harbor, click here.

To read more about Pierson’s production of “A Chorus Line,” click here.

Review: “Conviction” at Bay Street Theater

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Brian Hutchison, Elizabeth Reaser, Sarah Paulson and Garret Dillahunt in "Conviction" at Bay Street Theater.

Brian Hutchison, Elizabeth Reaser, Sarah Paulson and Garret Dillahunt in “Conviction” at Bay Street Theater.

By Annette Hinkle

Belief is perhaps one of the most powerful motivators in the arsenal of human emotion. Whether it is held in the absence of tangible proof or in the presence of damning evidence, often little can be done to assuage a deeply held position once it is ingrained in the psyche.

It’s true of politics, it’s true of religion …and it is especially true of relationships.

The notion of belief and trust are at the core of “Conviction,” Carey Crim’s powerful drama which opens Bay Street Theater’s 2014 summer mainstage season. Directed by Scott Schwartz, Bay Street’s new artistic director, “Conviction” enjoys its world premiere at the theater now through June 15.

But be prepared. Despite its fairly simple and straightforward approach, the subject matter is complex and this is one of those plays that will keep you thinking (and talking) long after the final curtain falls.

“Conviction” tells the story of Tom Hodges (Garret Dillahunt) a popular high school teacher whose enthusiasm for Shakespeare is infectious. When bright and engaged students come to him eager to learn more about the Bard, in his mission as an educator, he can’t help but share his enthusiasm.

As the play opens, Tom and his wife Leigh (Sarah Paulson) are arriving home with their best friends, Bruce (Brian Hutchison), also a teacher at the school, and Jayne (played by Elizabeth Reaser) following the school’s production of “Romeo and Juliet,” which Tom has directed.

As they joke about the length of the play and the talent of the lead teenage actress, Tom and Leigh’s energetic 13-year-old son, Nicholas (Daniel Burns) makes a brief appearance to raid the fridge before heading off to a friend’s house for a sleep over. Then the phone rings — it’s the school’s principal calling for Tom and from that point on, life will never be the same.

The bulk of the play takes place three years after that phone call. Tom is coming home from prison after being convicted for inappropriate sexual relations with the teenage actress who starred as Juliet in his play, and in those years, much has changed. Leigh adamantly believes her husband’s professed innocence and makes his homecoming special by inviting Bruce and Jayne to be there when he arrives. But it soon becomes clear this will not be an easy reunion and picking up where they left off nearly impossible.

Bruce puts on a brave face and acts like little has changed, but tension, anger and fear soon surfaces in Jayne, who literally takes on the role of “doubting Thomas,” giving voice to the unspoken suspicions about her old friend. She thinks he is guilty and her own conviction wreaks havoc on the couples’ long-standing friendship. Bruce and Jayne’s two daughters, who have been friends with Nicholas since they were babies, are no longer permitted to spend time at the Hodge’s home, which now shelters a convicted sex offender.

For his part, Nicholas is a young man struggling to come of age in a community that believes his father is a sexual predator. He has undergone a particularly dark transformation during Tom’s incarceration and is a withdrawn and friendless 16-year-old who dabbles in drugs and disappears for long stretches at a time.

Leigh smiles and does her best to keep her family intact, but the stress of the situation is evident. Tom’s purported indiscretion has been front page news. They rarely share a bed and suspicious glances, harassing anonymous phone calls and financial hardship has taken its toll. Leigh works at the hospital, but has been unable to keep up on the mortgage payments and the family is in danger of losing the house. Tom has lost his job, his direction and the respect of the community.

The best plays are those which provide no easy answers, and in fact, leave audiences with more questions than when they came in. “Conviction” does exactly that. Schwartz’s direction of the material is impressive and he has assembled a stellar cast for this production. The material is not easy, yet the actors bring the issues to a crescendo with great skill and sensitivity — particularly Paulson who is quite impressive as the long-suffering and stoic Leigh. Anna Louizos’ well-designed set exudes the comforts of suburban living. But she wisely offsets the American dream with a painted backdrop of neighboring houses which lurk menacingly close, pressing in on a private family drama which is being played out in public.

While the community’s awareness of the situation is key to the characters’ motivations, the power of “Conviction” comes from the fact the play looks intently at the collateral damage of sexual misconduct. Yes, the act is abhorrent, and while society’s revulsion of such crimes is well placed, lost in the debate are the families left to pick up the pieces. Not just the victim’s family, but the perpetrator’s as well — people who are subjected to harassment, judgmental stares and whispered gossip simply because they happen to be related.

So how does a family survive when someone has been convicted of a sexual offense? Can they survive? What if the accusations are false? These are just some of the many sticky questions which “Convictions” sets out to explore.

During a talk with Tom after a night out, Bruce tries to reconnect by pointing out that many teenage girls invite attention from men by dressing and acting far older than they are. Though he’s trying to sympathize with his friend, Bruce’s sentiment is disturbing in its familiarity — how many times have we all heard similar statements made in conversations with our own friends?

It’s a slippery slope indeed. When does a child become an adult? Actually, it depends on where — and when — you live. Shakespeare’s Juliet was just 13. Today, most people would agree a 15-year-old student sleeping with a 36-year-old teacher is a clear case of abuse. But what if the student is 17 and the teacher 23? Is Tom’s accuser a victim or a temptress? Is she a naïve child or a jilted lover? In our effort to protect children from abuse, have we gone too far by not allowing teachers to comfort distraught students with an embrace or offer counsel behind closed doors without witnesses?

While “Convictions” doesn’t set out to answer these questions, it does go to great lengths to explore them. That’s what makes this such an intriguing offering. Whether or not Tom “did it” is beside the point. This is a play about how we go on afterwards and one that considers the many victims beyond the obvious one

There are no easy answers — and in the end it does, indeed, come down to the power of convictions.

“Conviction” runs Tuesdays through Sundays with evening and some matinee performances through June 15 at Bay Street Theater, Long Wharf, Sag Harbor. The play is produced by Bay Street in association with Dead Posh Productions, Rubicon Theatre Company, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and Off-Broadway Across America. Tickets are $60.75 to $75. To reserve, call (631) 725-9500.