Tag Archive | "Theater"

World Premiere of “Conviction” Opens Bay Street’s Mainstage Season in Sag Harbor

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Rehearsal for "Conviction" in New York City. From left to right: Director Scott Schwartz, playwright Carey Crim and the cast, Brian Hutchison, Sarah Paulson, Daniel Burns, Elizabeth Reaser and Garret Dillahunt. Photo by Barry Gordin.

Rehearsal for “Conviction” in New York City. From left to right: Director Scott Schwartz, playwright Carey Crim and the cast, Brian Hutchison, Sarah Paulson, Daniel Burns, Elizabeth Reaser and Garret Dillahunt at the New 42nd Street Studio in New York City. Photo by Barry Gordin.

By Tessa Raebeck

You can grow up with your friends, live with them, even marry them, but can you ever truly know them?

This is one of many questions, perhaps unanswerable, in “Conviction,” a new play by Carey Crim that will have its world premiere Tuesday, May 27, opening the Bay Street Theatre Mainstage Season.

“In relationships, be they spouse or parent-child or friends, there is always a limit to how much we can know about another person,” said Bay Street’s new artistic director Scott Schwartz, who is directing the play.

That limit is clear in “Conviction,” the story of Tom Hodges, a beloved teacher at his local high school, who, early on in the play, is accused and convicted of having sexual relations with an underage female student.

“Conviction” stars Garret Dillahunt (“12 Years a Slave,” “Raising Hope”) as Tom Hodges. His wife Leigh is played by Sarah Paulson (“12 Years a Slave,” “American Horror Story”) and Daniel Burns (“Twelfth Night,” “Shipwrecked!”) portrays their 17-year-old son.

Brian Hutchison (“Man and Boy,” “Looped”) and Elizabeth Reaser (“Twilight” films, “Grey’s Anatomy”) play a married couple, Tom and Leigh’s longtime best friends.

“These five actors are all powerhouses,” said Mr. Schwartz. “I feel so lucky to both just be in a room with them, but also to have the opportunity to bring them to Bay Street and to share their amazing talent.”

“Conviction” explores the aftermath of Tom’s fall from grace and how his wife, son and best friends struggle with whether or not they believe his claim of innocence—and how to reconcile those beliefs with their love for Tom.

“This play,” said Mr. Dillahunt, who plays Tom, “examines the possibility of relationships of all sorts surviving where there is even a kernel of doubt and distrust.”

The cast of "Conviction:" Sarah Paulson, Brian Hutchison, Daniel Burns, Elizabeth Reaser and Garret Dillahunt. Photo by Barry Gordin.

The cast of “Conviction:” Sarah Paulson, Brian Hutchison, Daniel Burns, Elizabeth Reaser and Garret Dillahunt at the New 42nd Street Studio, New York City.

Photo by Barry Gordin.

 

“There are things that we individuals can just never know about the people we are with, so all we can do is live with conviction…and have belief about who they are deep inside them,” Mr. Schwartz said. “And when that conviction is challenged, when you’re forced to realize that there are things that you cannot know about the people you are in or choose to be in a relationship with, what does that do? How do you navigate that? How do you live your life—and is it possible for your relationship to survive?”

Ms. Crim came up with the idea for “Conviction” after a month of seemingly constant headlines involving inappropriate relationships between children and those in positions of authority culminated in a gig as a camp counselor, during which staff were directed against hugging campers or taking them to the bathroom without another witness present.

Although the rules made sense, she recalled her own experience as a camper climbing into her counselor’s bunk to hear ghost stories.

“Although I completely understood why we did it, it also made me a little bit sad for a more innocent time,” Ms. Crim said. “I started thinking about, putting those two things together, what has led us here?”

“I wanted to look at what it does to family and friends, who can never truly know…we can never, no matter how much we love someone, no matter if we live with that person, can we ever really truly know another human being,” she added.

Throughout the play, the viewer’s opinion on Tom can change multiple times. Ms. Crim said even her own “very strong” opinion when she began writing the play became less clear as she continued.

“Tom is the only one that really knows the truth,” explained Ms. Crim. “So, the audience is kind of in the shoes of the rest of the characters on stage, in terms of what information they get and don’t get. So, they have to take that journey—it is left up for them to decide.”

Also struggling with that decision are the actors, who remain loyal to the perceived convictions of their characters.

“I do believe that Leigh believes he is innocent,” said Ms. Paulson, adding she agrees. “But, I think part of her pragmatism lends itself to her believing what she wants to believe…She loves her husband very much and she wants to keep her family together.”

While Leigh appears loyal to her husband’s claim of innocence—and Ms. Paulson true to her character’s opinion—Ms. Reaser’s character, Jane, is burdened with doubt.

Ms. Reaser said although she is still figuring it out, she, like her character, thinks Tom is guilty.

“It’s kind of this thing that haunts her and it’s haunted her for years,” she said. “Is he guilty? Is he not guilty? And how do I reconcile that with this incredible man that I’ve always known him to be?”

“Some people can really live a duality and I find that very impressive. I think it’s important that we do know how to live a duality, because not everything is black and white,” she added. “But in Jane’s case, she really can’t straddle that line.”

“There is no template for a family on how to deal with something like this,” said Mr. Dillahunt. “Everyone is flying blind and doing the best they can. It’s a story of survival and, in the end, sometimes, things you hold dear must be sacrificed.”

Tom’s conviction comes down to he said, she said, with only the two parties involved definitively knowing the truth.

“There’s no evidence beyond that, beyond testimony—and that’s really a fascinating, scary thing about the world that we live in,” said Ms. Reaser.

“Conviction” premieres Tuesday, May 27 at 7 p.m. and runs through June 15, showing at 8 p.m. A special “Pay What You Can” ticket offer for the opening show has a limited amount of tickets available at the Box Office after 2 p.m. that day. For other tickets, visit baystreet.org or call 631-725-9500.

Rothko on Stage: ‘Red’ to Open at Guild Hall in East Hampton

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Left: Victor Slezak as Mark Rothko and Christian Scheider as his assistant Ken. Photo by Brian Leaver.

Left: Victor Slezak as Mark Rothko and Christian Scheider as his assistant Ken. Photo by Brian Leaver.

By Tessa Raebeck

The job of the artist assistant is to stretch canvases, mix paint, grab coffee and, in many cases, serve as the sounding board and mellowing counterpart to the boss’ eccentricity.

Such is the case in “Red,” a Tony-Award winning two-man play by John Logan centered on the relationship between the renowned postwar American artist Mark Rothko and his young assistant, Ken. Produced by Guild Hall in association with Ellen J. Myers, the play, which premiered in 2009, will open on the John Drew Theatre stage Wednesday, May 21.

Directed by Sag Harbor’s Stephen Hamilton, noted for his recent shows at the John Drew Theatre including Martin McDonough’s “The Cripple of Inishmann” and Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanda,” “Red” stars Victor Slezak as Rothko and Christian Scheider as Ken.

Victor Slezak as Mark Rothko. Photo by Brian Leaver.

Victor Slezak as Mark Rothko. Photo by Brian Leaver.

“The discussion that takes place between them, the action between them is a debate about commerce and art, about humanity,” Mr. Hamilton said of the main characters. “It’s about art and humanity, it’s about the importance and meaning of art in our life.”

Of Russian Jewish descent, Rothko, unlike many other artists, rose to prominence during his own lifetime and was at the apex of his career during the play’s two-year span, from 1958 to 1959.

At the time his inventive young assistant Ken comes to work with him, Rothko has just received an unheard of public commission for $35,000, the equivalent of about $2 million in today’s market, from the Four Seasons Restaurant to create murals, now known as the Seagram murals. The entire play takes place in the studio at 222 Bowery in New York City where the murals were created.

Although he himself rejected the term, Rothko was classified alongside his contemporaries Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock as “one of the most famous abstract expressionists in the New York school,” according to Mr. Hamilton.

Pop artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns were just coming into prominence in the late 1950s, much to the chagrin of Rothko.

“All of these artists are just starting to get recognized and that whole movement—it was a big shift between the expressionists and this time,” said Mr. Hamilton. “And its reaction to that—Mark Rothko is a bigger than life character, whose impressions and whose very deep feeling about the meaning of art in the world comes to stark contrast with what he thinks is the complete sort of obliteration of that psyche.”

“There is no such thing as good painting about nothing,” Rothko once said.

Pop artists were critiquing the art world of Rothko, essentially making fun of its gravity.

“It’s on the theme of seriousness,” said Mr. Scheider, a Sagaponack native and a young up-and-coming actor who plays the role of Ken. “Seriousness in art, seriousness in what you say, seriousness in what you live. Meaning Rothko was very much somebody who felt himself to be an outsider in American culture for a long time—until, of course, he became sort of a pillar of that culture, but that happened later—and so, throughout his whole life he dealt with this—I’m not going to say insecurity, because in fact he had a lot of security in himself—but a doubt as to whether there were people that could look at his paintings. He didn’t know if people were going to be moved by them.”

“So, much of what Ken does in the play is through the course of it, he sort of proves it possible that one can develop an appreciation for an abstract painting as a lay person,” he added. “So in a way he’s kind of a foil, but Ken in his own way is an artist.”

Although Ken is a painter, he’s not making art when he works with Rothko. He’s supporting the artist by grabbing food and cigarettes and doing the busy work. Throughout the play, he complements Rothko’s long-winded monologues with one-word, monosyllabic answers.

“What do you see?” Rothko will often ask.

“Red,” replies Ken.

Rothko will rage, stomping around the room, slinging packets of paint at his assistant, who will, in turn, pick up the packets, toss the artist a cigarette and clean up after his rage.

“Rothko’s right at the height of his powers right now, 1958-59, there’s nobody painting like him. He has achieved his mature style that you recognize from Rothko and yet he knows that that energy, that life force—right around the corner is the diminution of that force. He’s not in the greatest health and he knows that he’s right at the apex of his career, there’s nowhere else to go,” said Mr. Hamilton.

The youthful energy of Ken collides with the threat of dead-end maturity felt by Rothko, setting off their conflict in moments of both humorous dialogue and pure tension.

“One of the central questions in the play is, ‘What do you see?” Mr. Scheider said. “Which, of course, is whatever you see, I mean there’s no right answer… but for Rothko, he was trying to make people weep, which is hard to do with blocks of color, but somehow he managed.”

Mr. Scheider said the mentorship, intentional or not, of Rothko on Ken correlates to his own experience working with Mr. Slezak, a veteran actor who has been performing regularly on stage, films and television for 40 years.

“He’s a seasoned actor and is bringing a kind of gravitas to this role that is really impressive and inspiring because he’s the kind of actor who can live a character,” said Mr. Hamilton, adding, “He can really bring this character to life and same with Christian [Scheider], they’re both doing a fantastic job.”

“For me, as a young actor working with a much more experienced actor, there’s a lot of overlap between the rehearsal process and the play, it’s actually very useful,” said Mr. Scheider. “As a young person, [I am] honored to be given this responsibility.”

“Ken, over the course of the play, becomes a better artist by having just been with him.” Mr. Scheider said. “They have very different intentions in their work and yet Rothko instilled in him a kind of fearlessness…to take himself seriously.”

In Rothko’s words: “Art to me is an anecdote of the spirit, and the only means of making concrete the purpose of its varied quickness and stillness.”

“Red” runs from Wednesdays through Sundays from May 21, through June 8 at 8 p.m. at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton. Tickets are $35 for general admission, $33 for members and $10 for students. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 324-4050 or visit guildhall.org.

Stages Brings a Favorite Back to Bay Street

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The cast of Stages' 2006 performance of "Once Upon a Mattress." Photo courtesy of Stages.

The cast of Stages’ 2006 performance of “Once Upon a Mattress.” Photo courtesy of Stages.

By Tessa Raebeck

A twist on the fabled tale of “The Princess and the Pea,” the romantic comedy “Once Upon A Mattress” returns to the Bay Street stage this weekend in three shows by Stages, a Children’s Theatre Workshop, Inc.

A fractured fairy tale that takes a comedic twist on the classic story, “Once Upon a Mattress” has music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer and book by Marshall Barer, Dean Fuller and Jay Thompson.

The play will mark the 97th production for Stages, which begins its 20th season of professional-quality shows featuring local young actors this summer.

Director and choreographer Helene Leonard manages a cast of 30 young actors. Local musicians Amanda Jones and James Benard will provide accompaniment.

For Sunday’s Mother’s Day show, all mothers in the audience will receive a crown marking them “Queen-for-a-day.”

“Once Upon a Matress” is Saturday, May 10 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 11 at 2 p.m. at Bay Street Theatre, 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit stagesworkshop.org, email info@stagesworkshop.org or call 329-1420.

Bay Street Theatre’s New Works Festival Explores the Craft of Playwriting

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By Tessa Raebeck

With three staged readings and an interactive panel discussion, Bay Street Theatre’s first New Works Festival will give up-and-coming playwrights a chance to develop their work in front of an audience—and give that audience a chance to see the culmination of the playwrights’ creative process firsthand.

At 4 p.m. Saturday, an “Artist Interact” panel discussion moderated by award-winning writer John Weidman will allow the playwrights to explore the challenges of being a modern playwright and the process of developing new work in the theater.

At 8 p.m. Friday, the festival starts with a reading of “Fight Call” by Jess Brickman, a comedy about the backstage of the theater world. The play explores the boundaries of trust and professionalism between a veteran theater star and a young up-and-coming actor when one of them threatens to commit an actual act of violence—as opposed to an acted act of violence—on stage during their performance.

A contemporary reimagining of Chekhov’s “Cherry Orchard,” according to playwright P. Seth Bauer, “The Orchard Play” will be read Saturday at 8 p.m. It follows the struggle of a Pennsylvania family farm as it tries to contend with outside pressure to sell their land to oil companies interested in “fracking,” hydraulic fracturing to release natural gas.

The final reading is of “The May Queen” by Molly Smith Metzler Sunday at 2 p.m. The comedy focuses on the disappointment of Mike Petracca when he is reunited with the high school flame he has been obsessed with since her departure years before. It examines the unreliability of expectations and the roles people play in one another’s lives, often unknowingly.

“Talkbacks” in which the audience can interact with the writers will follow each reading.

The New Works Festival is at Bay Street Theatre, 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information or tickets, call 725-9500 or visit baystreet.org.

Bridgehampton Students will Reunite the Peanuts Gang in “Snoopy! The Musical”

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By Tessa Raebeck

Focusing on the life of Snoopy—and the natural comedy found therein—the Bridgehampton School is presenting “Snoopy! The Musical” in three shows today, Thursday, April 24, Friday, April 25 and and Saturday, April 26.

The second musical ever produced at the school, “Snoopy! The Musical” is the sequel to “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and also stars the characters of Charles Schulz’s iconic comic strip “Peanuts.” The book musical follows Snoopy and the gang through trials from trying to not be called on in class to trying to get a manuscript published, as Charlie Brown grows more and more insecure of Snoopy’s growing independence.

“It is hysterical,” said Lindsey Sanchez, the choral director at Bridgehampton School. “It’s all brand new for the students and they are loving it, the show is going to be great.”

“Snoopy! The Musical” will premiere today, April 24, at 1 p.m. in a show for Bridgehampton’s elementary students, and also run April 25 and 26 at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium at Bridgehampton School, 2685 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton. Tickets are $5. For more information or to purchase tickets, call Lindsey Sanchez at 537-0271, ext. 127.

Bay Street’s First Annual New Works Festival Highlights Emerging Playwrights

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By Tessa Raebeck

From farmers contending with fracking interests in rural Pennsylvania to unrequited love for a high school flame built up to unrealistic—and potentially devastating—expectations, Bay Street Theatre is exploring the various manifestations of struggle this spring.

The Sag Harbor theater will open the 2014 season with its first annual New Works Festival April 25 to 27, highlighting the work of three of New York’s emerging playwrights.

The festival will include readings of the newest work by P. Seth Bauer, Jess Brickman and Molly Smith Metzler, as well as talkbacks following each reading, in which the audience can interact directly with the artists. An “Artist Interact” on Saturday will offer further dialogue with the authors through a panel discussion led by award-winning writer John Weidman.

The festival is the first event led by Bay Street’s new artistic director Scott Schwartz, who has voiced his dedication to giving a stage to promising playwrights. Bauer, Brickman and Metzler, are “very exciting writers,” Mr. Schwartz, who is currently out of the country, said in February.

Playwright Molly Smith Metzler. Photo courtesy of Bay Street Theatre.

Playwright Molly Smith Metzler. Photo courtesy of Bay Street Theatre.

In discussing his vision for his inaugural season at Bay Street, Mr. Schwartz and the team at Bay Street have a “deep commitment to new work and developing new plays and musicals at the theater.”

Bay Street Executive Director Tracy Mitchell reiterated that sentiment on Monday.

“When Scott came to us as our new artistic director, one of the first things we talked about was really wanting to go back to trying to include — well, first of all,  — extending our season into the shoulder seasons by helping artists with their new work. It’s something that we wanted to do for a long time and with his help, we’ve been able to implement it,” Ms. Mitchell said.

The festival is being produced in association with SPACE on Ryder Farm, a non-profit artist residency program on the grounds of Ryder Farm in Brewster, New York, “another organization that helps people develop new work,” according to Ms. Mitchell. Led by founding executive director Emily Ryder Simoness, SPACE provides writers and theater companies with residencies.

Mr. Schwartz and Ms. Simoness together decided on the plays to be featured in the festival and cast them using Bay Street’s equity actors.

“Fight Call” by Jess Brickman, a graduate of the Juilliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program, will be read on Friday, April 25 at 8 p.m. The backstage comedy about the theater world explores the boundaries of trust between an up-and-coming young actor and a seasoned veteran after one threatens to commit an act of violence on stage during their performance.

Playwright Jess Brickman. Photo courtesy of Bay Street Theatre.

Playwright Jess Brickman. Photo courtesy of Bay Street Theatre.

In addition to plays, Ms. Brickman has written essays, articles, screenplays and for television and web series. After premiering at Lincoln Center, her films, “The Five Stages of Grief” and “I Am Not a Moose” were selected at the Hamptons Film Festival and several other festivals for the 2013 circuit.

On April 26, the second day of the festival will begin with the panel discussion at 4 p.m., followed by a cocktail reception. Led by John Weidman, the panel will allow audience members to ask questions of the playwrights, Mr. Weidman and Mr. Schwartz.

Mr. Weidman won a Tony Award for Best Musical Revival for “Assassins,” and has written the books for a variety of musicals, many with scores by Stephen Sondheim.

“This is someone who obviously reached the pinnacle in our world as a playwright,” Ms. Mitchell said.

Following the discussion will be a reading at 8 p.m. of “The Orchard Play” by P. Seth Bauer of Philadelphia.

“It’s a contemporary re-imagining of Chekhov’s ‘Cherry Orchard’,” Mr. Bauer said Tuesday. Old family farms near Mr. Bauer’s home in Pennsylvania, “facing incredible hardships financially,” were offered “enormous sums of money” by oil companies interested in drilling for natural gas through “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing.

“The paradox was that these farmers, they sold their mineral rights, they ended up decimating their land and drinking water — getting money but perpetuating their own demise,” he said.

“There seemed to be an interesting if painful parallel to be drawn here, so I chose the Chekhov play as my inspiration…is it inevitable, I’m not sure, and it’s not for me to say. I just wanted to humanize the problem and write about people who had a deep and complex love for their home, their legacy and their land,” he added.

Playwright P. Seth Bauer. Photo courtesy of Bay Street Theatre.

Playwright P. Seth Bauer. Photo courtesy of Bay Street Theatre.

The festival ends Sunday at 2 p.m. with a reading of “The May Queen” by Molly Smith Metzler, which will premiere at the Chautauqua Theatre Company in July. The comedy centers on the obsessive love of Mike Petracca for his high school flame, former May Queen Jennifer Nash, and the realities of their reunion versus his high expectations, revealing the strange roles people play — often unknowingly — in each other’s lives.

As the audience learns the backdrop of the creative process through the interactive dialogues, how a play develops from reading to workshop to — ideally — Broadway, the playwrights will be able to bounce their work off the audience.

“The audience is the finishing part of the play,” said Mr. Bauer. “It doesn’t exist without the audience. I can have an idea in my head, but the real test is — does an audience connect with that idea or no.”

The New Works Festival is April 25 to 27 at Bay Street Theatre, 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 725-9500 or visit baystreet.org.

Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater Lab Presents The April Fool’s Show

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By Tessa Raebeck

The John Drew Theater Lab hosts The April Fool’s Show, an evening of staged readings from a range of comedic plays, some new work, music and performances.

Chloe Dirksen will direct the readings, featuring Ms. Dirksen, Alan Ceppos, Peter Connolly, Lydia Franco-Hodges, Josh Gladstone, Kate Mueth. Bobby Peterson will play piano and Liz Joyce of Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre will give a “very special racy performance,” according to the theater lab.

The April Fool’s Show is Tuesday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, call 324-0806 or visit guildhall.org.

After 23 Years, the Hampton Theatre Company Revives “The Foreigner”

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The Hampton Theatre Company in "The Foreigner." Courtesy of director Sarah Hunnewell.

Krista Kurtzberg, Ben Schnickel, Matthew Conlon and Diana Marbury in “The Foreigner.” Photo by Tom Kochie.

 

By Tessa Raebeck

After a widely successful run in 1991, “The Foreigner” will return to Quogue this month as the Hampton Theatre Company revives of one of its greatest hits.

“This show is just a very, very funny comedy, which we did 23 years ago with huge, huge sell-out success and so we decided, 23 years later, to revive it,” said HTC executive director Sarah Hunnewell, who is directing the play this time around.

“The Foreigner,” written by the late playwright Larry Shue, will run from March 13 through March 30 at the Quogue Community Hall.

It is the best-known play by Mr. Shue, a promising young playwright and actor who died in a plane crash at the pinnacle of his success in 1985. At the time of his death, two of Mr. Shue’s productions, “The Foreigner” and “The Nerd,” were enjoying successful runs both in London and New York, he was gearing up to make his Broadway debut as an actor and he was working on a screenplay of “The Foreigner” with Disney.

“It’s a silly play, but it has a lot of cards and it actually says some nice things about life and people and all that kind of stuff—but it’s wildly entertaining at the same time,” said Ms. Hunnewell.

Unhappy with his life, Charlie, a shy and awkward Englishman, is brought to a quaint fishing lodge in the middle of rural, backwoods Georgia by his friend Froggy.

“He basically, at the beginning, thinks he should never have come and is completely horrified with the fact that he’s there and he’s horrified by this seedy, peculiar fishing lodge in the rural south,” the director said.

Rather than adapting to his surroundings, Charlie decides to pretend to be a non-English speaking foreigner and invents a strange dialect so that no one will talk to him.

Diana Marbury and Matthew Conlon in "The Foreigner." Photo by Tom Kochie.

Diana Marbury and Matthew Conlon in “The Foreigner.” Photo by Tom Kochie.

“That’s sort of the comic premise of the play, the fact that he politically doesn’t speak any English,” Ms. Hunnewell said.

About to abandon his role-playing, Charlie gets stuck in his position when those around him begin to spill their secrets in front of him under the assumption he knows no English. Upon discovering an evil plot, Charlie must expose it without also exposing his own cover.

“It’s just a lovely, very fun piece and we’ve got a wonderful cast who are a joy to work with and all very talented,” said Ms. Hunnewell, who has directed all but two of the actors before.

Matthew Conlon is returning to the HTC stage after a near 20-year hiatus to play the lead role of Charlie. “It’s a nice fit, it’s like going home to that theater,” said Mr. Conlon of his return to the Quogue stage.

“The character is just like an outsider. It’s an outsider story about someone who finds himself through the challenge of having to extend himself to other people,” said Mr. Conlon. “At its heart, it’s sort of a sublime foolishness, but it has a heart to it. There’s something about this play that’s very sweet and real.”

Longtime HTC members Diana Marbury and James Ewing are reprising the roles they played in the original production, with Ms. Marbury as the naïve innkeeper Betty Meeks and Mr. Ewing as “this nasty southern stereotype guy,” Owen Musser, said Ms. Hunnewell.

“Jim is having a wild time, he loves his character. He plays the bad guy—which is always very fun to do,” Ms. Hunnewell said.

“It’s always interesting to come back to a role and just revisit it and see how it changed,” said Ms. Marbury. “You have different casts, so the other people involved in the show bring a different dynamic to the play itself—and, consequently, to you and your character. So, each time it’s a very fresh kind of piece.”

Other HTC veterans include Joe Pallister as the complicated Reverend David Marshall Lee, Terry Brockbank as the cheerful Froggy and Ben Shnickel as Ellard Sims, “sort of the comic character because he’s very dumb,” according to Ms. Hunnewell.

“Our new Ellard is just a charming young man that has done some work with us and really has quite a good grip on the character,” Ms. Marbury said of Mr. Shnickel.

James Ewing and Matthew Conlon in "The Foreigner." Photo by Tom Kochie.

James Ewing and Matthew Conlon in “The Foreigner.” Photo by Tom Kochie.

Newcomer Krista Kurtzberg plays the beautiful young debutante Catherine Simms. A native of Georgia, Ms. Kurtzberg is “a great addition in terms of getting our accents right,” said Ms. Hunnewell.

Primarily a drama director, Ms. Hunnewell has found a welcome challenge in directing comedy, especially with her cast of friends and longtime collaborators.

“The actors in a comedy have to just be good comic actors because you cannot teach comedy. Comedy is all about timing, delivery and timing, and if you haven’t got it, you haven’t got it,” she said.

“The challenges of doing this kind of comedy for me are to play it as truthfully as possible,” added Mr. Conlon. “This character, Charlie Baker, is funny because of situation and circumstances. I don’t think he’s trying to be funny, I think it comes. So for me, it’s to really find the values and the moment-to-moment reality that allow the play to be funny.”

“There just has to always be truth in the character, and as long as the character is real, the comedy or the drama come out of that,” said Ms. Marbury. “One of the tricky parts is not just playing for laughs, so the laughs come out of the truth of the character and also the dialogue—the premise itself.”

“The Foreigner” will run from March 13 through March 30, on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. at the Quogue Community Hall, 125 Jessup Avenue in Quogue. Tickets are $25 for adults, $23 for seniors (except on Saturdays) and $10 for students under 21. The Hampton Theatre Company is offering special dinner and theater packages in collaboration with the Southampton, Westhampton Beach, Hampton Bays and Quogue libraries. For more information or to make reservations, call 866-811-4111 or visit here.

“August: Osage County” at the Southampton Cultural Center

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The female members of the cast of "August: Osage County." Courtesy of the Southampton Cultural Center.

The female members of the cast of “August: Osage County.” Courtesy of the Southampton Cultural Center.

By Tessa Raebeck

Presented by Center Stage at the Southampton Cultural Center, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning “August: Osage County” will have its Long Island premiere Thursday, March 20 at the Levitas Center for the Arts.

The darkly comedic and dysfunctional family drama by Tracy Letts received a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2008, after making its Broadway debut at the Imperial Theater in 2007. “August: Osage County” closed on Broadway after 648 performances and won five Tony Awards, including Best Play, Leading Actress and Director. The film adaptation was released last year and starred Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, who both earned Oscar nominations for their performances.

The play covers the tumultuous relationships and divergent lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, who are brought back together when a family crisis forces three sisters to return, along with their significant others, to the Oklahoma house they grew up in – and to their mother, a manipulative addict.

Directed by Michael Disher, the Center Stage presentation of “August: Osage County” will run March 20 through April 6 on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. at the Levitas Center for the Arts, 25 Pond Lane in Southampton. General admission is $22 and $12 for students under 21 with ID. On Fridays, seniors are $20. For tickets, call the Southampton Cultural Center at 287-4377 or purchase online.

Hampton Theatre Company to Hold Auditions for “God of Carnage”

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By Tessa Raebeck

The Hampton Theatre Company in Quogue will hold open auditions for two of the four roles in “God of Carnage,” an award-winning volatile comedy written by Yasmina Reza.

The play, according to the company, “reveals how quickly and disastrously the thin veneer of civility can be stripped away when two sets of parents attempt to discuss a confrontation between their sons.”

The roles of Michael Novak (in his 40s to 50s) and his wife Veronica Novak (in her 40s) are available. Diana Marbury will direct “God of Carnage.” Rehearsals begin in mid-April and performances run from May 22 through June 8 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons at the Quogue Community Hall.

Auditions will be held on Sunday, March 23 and Monday, March 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Quogue Community Hall, 125 Jessup Avenue in Quogue. Readings at the auditions will be from the script, with no monologue or appointment necessary. Contact info@hamptontheatre.org or call 917-532-4440 for more information, or visit here.