County Players Presents the Tony Award-Winning Musical Comedy THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE – OPENING September 13th!

Six middle school misfits are thrown into a cutthroat, high-stakes competition, and P-A-N-D-E-M-O-N-I-U-M takes first place.

Welcome to the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, where eccentric adolescents (all played by adults!) get their chance to shine as they vie to prove they are worthy of a shot at “Nationals.” A touching and irreverent coming-of-age comedy with a high-spirited, improvised spelling bee, this Tony Award-winning musical is a laugh-out-loud. The cast features the local talents of Lisa Delia, Chole Kramer, Glen Macken. Thomas O’Leary. Dylan Parkin. Amy Schaffer. Jeff Sculley. Jontae Walters, and Irving Zuniga. Director Jeff Wilson says: “Come meet these lovable misfits as they compete for the county spelling bee championship.  Along the way, they share their challenges and joys, deal with the pressures of competing and learn about friendship, family, and self-confidence.  Some audience members may even get the chance to compete in the bee themselves.”

Performances will be Friday & Saturday September 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28 8:00p.m. with a matinee on Sunday, September 22 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors/children under 12. Call the Box Office at 845-298-1491 for reservations or order your tickets online at  www.countyplayers.org. Visa, MasterCard, and Discover are accepted. County Players Falls Theatre is located at 2681 W. Main, Wappingers Falls, NY.
Note: the show contains some mild adult humor.

The production is supported by Gold Sponsor is A&R Security. County Players 62nd season is generously sponsored by Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union.

County Players is one of the longest running community theatre companies in our area, County Players is an all-volunteer organization which has presented more than 200 productions and has served thousands of theatergoers since 1958. Located in the Village of Wappingers Falls they acquired the Academy Theatre, then renamed County Players Falls Theatre, their home since 1977.

Accessibility:

If you require wheelchair accessibility, please contact our Box Office at 845-298-1491.

Contacts: Jeff Wilson, Director, cell: 914-474-7869   email: wilsonjd@yahoo.com

Joseph Pettignano, Publicity Chair, cell: 845-489-3086 email: jpettignano@gmail.com

PHOTO: The cast of County Players’ 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee CREDIT: Harold Bonacquist

Catskill’s Bridge Street Theatre Presents the World Premiere of Michelle Carter’s BETTER September 12 – 22, 2019

A shooting. A séance. Fondue.

In the tradition of Kieron Barry’s THE OFFICIAL ADVENTURES OF KIERON AND JADE, Bridge Street presents the world premiere of yet another brand-new comedy – this one by Michelle Carter, whose HOW TO PRAY was a big audience favorite during BST’s 2017 Season. In Carter’s new play BETTER, coming to BST for eight performances only September 12-22, 20-year-old Emily’s life is turned upside down when her mother commits a shockingly violent act. She leaves school, takes a job at a fondue restaurant, consults a medium, and, like the good student she’s always been, searches for answers. How will she be able to endure her pain? What might she be capable of? Does she deserve happiness? And will things ever get better?

This quirky comedy on serious subjects will be directed by Sara Lampert Hoover (BST’s “Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune”), and features actors Montana Lampert Hoover as Emily, Brian Linden as Emily’s dad Ben, Lori Evans as Medium Molly (a down-to-earth clairvoyant), Carla Lewis-Ruig as Luisa (Emily’s co-worker at The Melting Pot Fondue Restaurant), and Eric Fleising as Emily’s boyfriend Michael. The production will also feature an original musical score composed by Catskill’s Rodney Alan Greenblat! Sets and lighting will be designed by Bridge Street Artistic Director John Sowle, with costumes by Michelle Rogers, and sound by Carmen Borgia. Production Stage Manager is Joshua Martin. Production costs for this world premiere have been underwritten in part by a generous gift from Rachel Lampert.

“Michelle Carter’s plays remind me so much of those unconventional, off-beat streaming comedy series so many of us binge on,” says Bridge Street Theatre Artistic Director John Sowle. “She takes on serious subjects (the aftermath of a school shooting, in this case) and deals with them in such a light-handed, humanizing way that it utterly disarms audiences, helps them let their guards down, and opens their hearts. You never see the violence that drives this play onstage – you merely witness the affect it has on the family the perpetrator leaves behind. And what a privilege to have Michelle here during the rehearsal process and for the first few public performances! We’ll even be holding an onstage Q&A session with her following our ‘Pay What You Will’ performance on Thursday September 12. Folks who saw Michelle’s ‘How To Pray’ at our theatre back in 2017 will need no encouragement to visit her world again.”
BST co-founder Steven Patterson concurs. “Not only is this a terrific new play, but the production has turned out to be a real family affair. We’ve got the great Sara Lampert Hoover, who helmed our production of Terrence McNally’s ‘Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune’ so brilliantly back in 2018, in the director’s chair. When we saw her daughter Montana Lampert Hoover at the NY Fringe last year in ‘The F#@%ing Wright Brothers’ by David Zellnik (whose ‘The Letters’ we premiered earlier this year), we immediately knew she’d be ideal casting as Emily – and she is, she is. And, since we want to make sure we do this incredible new play justice, we’ve hired a larger than usual complement of Equity actors, and THAT was made possible by a welcome donation, specifically for that purpose, from Sara’s sister (and Montana’s aunt) Rachel Lampert, who only recently retired after 20 years as the Artistic Director of the adventurous Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, NY. Our audiences will also recognize Lori Evans from her performance here as Marjory/Mallory in ‘The Moors’. The three remaining cast members will all be making their Bridge Street Theatre debuts, though we’ve known and loved Brian Linden’s work since our San Francisco days. And to have Rodney Alan Greenblat creating an original score for us is simply the cherry on top of the sundae.”

“Better” is recommended for audiences ages 13+ and plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm from September 12 – 22, 2019 on the Bridge Street Theatre Mainstage, located at 44 West Bridge Street, in Catskill, NY, just a block and a half west of Main Street across the Uncle Sam Bridge, which spans Catskill Creek. Eight performances only. General Admission is $25, Students 21 and under are only $10. Discounted advance tickets are available at better.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 800-838-3006. Tickets will also be sold at the door one half hour prior to each performance on a space available basis. “Pay What You Will” performances will be held on Thursday evening September 12 and Sunday afternoon September 15 (“Pay What You Will” tickets are available only at the door one half hour prior to those performances  For more information, visit the theatre online at BridgeSt.org/better/. Don’t pass up the chance to experience this eye- and heart-opening new comedy in its world premiere!

Events at Bridge Street Theatre are supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by Public Funds from the Greene County Legislature through the Cultural Fund administered in Greene County by the Greene County Council on the Arts.


Performance Calendar:

Bridge Street Theatre presents
The World Premiere of
BETTER
by Michelle Carter
with Montana Lampert Hoover*, Carla Lewis*, Brian Linden*, Lori Evans, and Eric Fleising
Directed by Sara Lampert Hoover
Sets and Lighting by John Sowle
Costumes by Michelle Rogers
Original Score by Rodney Alan Greenblat
Sound by Carmen Borgia
Production Stage Manager: Joshua Martin
September 12 – 22, 2019
Bridge Street Theatre Mainstage
44 West Bridge Street, Catskill, NY

Thursday September 12 @ 7:30pm (“Pay What You Will” preview, with a Q&A with the playwright immediately following the performance)
Friday September 13 @ 7:30pm (Opening Night, with reception to follow)
Saturday September 14 @ 7:30pm
Sunday September 15 @ 2:00pm (“Pay What You Will” performance)
Thursday September 19 @ 7:30pm
Friday September 20 @ 7:30pm
Saturday September 21 @ 7:30pm
Sunday September 22 @ 2:00pm (Closing performance)

Tickets:
Advance tickets available at http://better.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 800-838-3006
General Admission $22, $10 for students ages 21 and under
Tickets can also be purchased at the door prior to each performance (on a space available basis) for $25, $10 for Students ages 21 & under.
“Pay What You Will” tickets are available only on the day of performance and go on sale at the door one half hour before curtain time.

Photo Credit: John Sowle

New Deal Creative Arts Center to Hold Free Public Reading of Louisa Vilardi’s New Play

The New Deal Creative Arts Center is proud to present a free public reading of Tough Love, a new play written by playwright Louisa Vilardi. Tough Love is a mix of comedy and drama that explores how much it takes to give up or give in when it comes to marriage and family. 

Louisa Vilardi

Louisa is a writer and theater director originally from Northern New Jersey where she taught high school English and Creative Writing for over a decade before moving to the Hudson Valley. She is also a contributing writer for The Huffington Post, Today Parenting Team and Scary Mommy and is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild of America.

This free public reading will be presented at Clove Creek Dinner Theater in Fishkill, NY on Sunday, September 29th at 7:30pm. This reading features Steven Bendler, Austin Lightning Carrothers, Joseph Eriole, Teresa Gasparini, David Perez-Ribada, and Laurel Riley-Brown. Join us for the world premiere reading of the play, light refreshments and a talk back following the reading. Tickets are free, but reservations are required. This play is intended for mature audiences only.

For free tickets, please visit: newdeal-toughlove.eventbrite.com

County Players Announces Open Call for Directors

County Players Announces Open Call for Directors for 63rd Season 2020-2021

WAPPINGERS FALLS, NY– County Players, one of the longest running volunteer community theaters is seeking qualified individuals to submit to direct productions for the 63rd Season 2020-2021. Deadline to submit interest form(s) is midnight, September 13, 2019.

Criteria for submission for individuals who have not previously directed at County Players:

  1. Be experienced directors, (directed at least 3 full-length productions.)
  2. Be willing to adhere by all guidelines and expectations of County Players.
  3. Submit a County Players Directors Form by September 13, 2019 for each piece they are interested in directing.
  4. Submit a resume of directing experiences, including pieces, theater, and timeframe.
  5. If requested, be available to meet with the Play Reading Task Force prior to November 1st for an interview that would also serve to help assess qualified candidates.
  6. Provide references upon request.

The 2020-22021 Season productions are scheduled for July, September, and November 2020, and February and May 2021. The deadline to submit director interest form(s) is midnight, September 13, 2019.

For information on submitting to direct, a directors form, the company, the proposed list of shows for the 2020-2021 season, current season, and past productions please visit countyplayers.org.

About County Players

County Players, one of the longest-running community theatre companies in the region, was founded in 1958 and in that time has presented over 200 productions and served thousands of theatergoers, and still manage to keep prices at an affordable level following the mission to “delight, educate, and challenge the community and to nurture creative expression, through theatre and the performing arts of the highest quality.”

Contacts:

Christine Crawfis

President and Play Reading Task Force Chair, email: ccrawfis@hvc.rr.com Cell: 845-380-0155

Joseph Pettignano, Publicity Chair, email: jpettignano@gmail.com, cell: 845-489-3086

REVIEW: Steel Magnolias – Clove Creek Dinner Theater

Review By Josie Grant

“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”  – Truvy, Steel Magnolias

Life is a contradiction. Bitter and sweet; awfully good; its storms survived and then made beautiful in their aftermath by steel magnolias. Comedy and tragedy are not a part of life, but are life; a paradox which must be embraced if it is to be overcome. What better way to show this delicate balance of navigating and surviving life’s ups and downs than through the story of six strong women and their fierce determination to support one another?

Robert Harling wrote Steel Magnolias after his sister died of complications of diabetes in 1985. It opened Off-Broadway in 1987, was adapted into a film in 1989, and made its Broadway debut in 2005. In order to come to terms with the loss, he focused on the humor and lightheartedness his family used to cope with the seriousness of the situation.

Photo credit: Louisa Vilardi Photography

The play, set in small town Louisiana in the 80’s, centers on a group of southern women powerfully bonded by their shared experiences. Clove Creek Dinner Theater’s production tackles the daunting task of assembling a group of women who capable of portraying the bond established by the characters in the span of decades, in a matter of weeks. The play opens in a beauty salon, where advice is dispensed like hairspray. The story unfolds entirely within the salon, with each character stopping by not only for the cosmetology services the events of life require, but also, indeed probably more so, for the camaraderie of friends who have become family. The single set works nicely with Clove Creek’s stage and the dinner theater gives the intended moments of connectedness the pleasant, familiar “informal therapy session” feel you might get from a wise barman – or a good hair stylist.

Through thoughtful casting, Director Teresa Gasparini, who has served as the Artistic Director of Clove Creek since its inception in 2015, enables each member of this strong ensemble to shine by letting each one bring their own unique touch to the characters.

Laurel Riley-Brown, complete with the big hair of the 80’s, effectively plays kind hearted gossip and salon owner, Truvy. Her newly hired assistant, Annelle, played by Maddy M. Murphy, has a wide character arc. Ms. Murphy’s portrayal is believable every step of the way, and in the play’s closing moments in particular, quite moving.

Photo credit: Louisa Vilardi Photography

Patricia Holzhauer, as Clairee, the sophisticated widow of the former mayor, and Stephanie Hepburn, as her long-time friend and wealthy curmudgeon Ouiser, successfully strike the love-hate relationship indicative of an old friendship with their portrayals.

Rena Gavigan, who plays the kind-hearted strong willed Shelby, and Kit Colbourn, who plays M’Lynne, her passionate but stubborn mother, are both perfect in their delivery of what each would be feeling as a young woman facing a limiting disease, and as the mom who only wants what’s best for her.

As the contradiction in its title suggests, Steel Magnolias is both art imitating life, and life imitating art; and Clove Creek’s production will have you laughing through the tears.

Steel Magnolias plays through Sunday, August 18th at Clove Creek Dinner Theater, 18 Wastage Business Center Drive, Fishkill, NY (845) 202-7778; www.clovecreekdinnertheater.com

Photo credit: Louisa Vilardi Photography

PRESS RELEASE: Bridge Street Theatre presents “…And Every Tale Condemns Me For a Villain”

Two Solo Shows in Rotating Rep on Characters from Shakespeare

THRICE TO MINE (world premiere) created and performed by Roxanne Fay
SHYLOCK by Gareth Armstrong, performed by Steven Patterson
August 15 – 25, 2019
Bridge Street Theatre Mainstage
44 West Bridge Street, Catskill, NY

One of the things actor Steven Patterson discovered during his first run with Gareth Armstrong’s play “Shylock” at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre back in 2007 was a way of getting inside Tubal, its main character, by viewing him as a Catskills tummler.

“Gareth was determined to make our production in Florida (the first he’d authorized in English by anyone other than himself) unique – not just a carbon copy of the one he’d toured all over the world for a decade. He tailored the script in ways that made it more friendly to an American audience, as opposed to his original British one. He forced me (gently) to find my own way even when I begged him to ‘PLEASE just let me know how you solved this’. However, the major way we found to make the show more distinctly ‘American’ was to draw on the bottomless wealth of immigrant Jewish humor that’s so much a part of our theatrical heritage here in the U.S. Jacob Adler’s Yiddish Theatre. The great Jewish comics of the vaudeville circuit and radio (the Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, Fanny Brice, George Burns, etc). And especially the Borscht Belt jokes of the vintage Catskills resorts. All gave me a real ‘in’ into this character. This guy is trying hard to please, trying to make sure everybody’s having the best possible time. And when approaching a play as full of potential landmines as ‘The Merchant of Venice’, that tack proved to be ideal. Now that my husband John (who’s directing this production) and I have been residents here in the Catskills for more than a decade, it feels as though some of that history has seeped into my bones and I only hope I’m at least living up to the second definition of a tummler – a lively, mischievous man!  Can’t wait to share this unique, funny, and tragic vision of Jewish identity with audiences here in the Hudson Valley. ‘They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!’”

Patterson brings his performance in “Shylock” to the stage of Catskill’s adventurous Bridge Street Theatre from August 15-25, in rotating repertory with “Thrice To Mine”, Roxanne Fay’s one-woman show that tells the fascinating story of the woman on whom Shakespeare based the character of Lady Macbeth. Generally perceived as villainous in the plays in which they appear, these two characters receive far more probing and sympathetic scrutiny in both these bracing theatrical inquiries. Were these two “villains” really villains?

“Shylock” and “Thrice To Mine” will be performed together in Catskill under the title “…And Every Tale Condemns Me For a Villain”. Recommended for audiences ages 13+, the plays alternate performances on Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 3:00 and 7:00pm from August 15 – 25, 2019 at Bridge Street Theatre, 44 West Bridge Street, in Catskill, NY, just a block and a half west of Main Street across the Uncle Sam Bridge, which spans Catskill Creek.

Steven Patterson in Gareth Armstrong’s Shylock

You can view the shows individually or in “one fell swoop” at Saturday and Sunday Marathons (with a break in between). General Admission is $25, Students 21 and under are only $10. Discounted advance tickets are available online at thrice.brownpapertickets.com and shylock.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 800-838-3006. Tickets will also be sold at the door one half hour prior to each performance on a space available basis. “Pay What You Will” performances take place on Thursday evening August 15, Friday evening August 16, and at both the matinee and evening performances of the Sunday Marathon on August 18 (“Pay What You Will” tickets are available only at the door one half hour prior to these performances). For more details, visit the theatre online at BridgeStreetTheatre.org.

Events at Bridge Street Theatre are supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by Public Funds from the Greene County Legislature through the Cultural Fund administered in Greene County by the Greene County Council on the Arts.

Steven Patterson in Gareth Armstrong’s Shylock

PERFORMANCE CALENDAR:
THRICE TO MINE – Thursday August 15 @ 7:30pm (“Pay What You Will”)
SHYLOCK – Friday August 16 @ 7:30pm (“Pay What You Will”)
SHYLOCK – Saturday August 17 @ 3:00pm
THRICE TO MINE – Saturday August 17 @ 7:00pm
THRICE TO MINE – Sunday August 18 @ 3:00pm (“Pay What You Will”)
SHYLOCK – Sunday August 18 @ 7:00pm (“Pay What You Will”)
SHYLOCK – Thursday August 22 @ 7:30pm
THRICE TO MINE – Friday August 23 @ 7:30pm
THRICE TO MINE – Saturday August 24 @ 3:00pm
SHYLOCK – Saturday August 24 @ 7:00pm
SHYLOCK – Sunday August 25 @ 3:00pm (Closing performance)
THRICE TO MINE – Sunday August 25 @ 7:00pm (Closing performance)

REVIEW: Mamma Mia! – Up in One Productions

The Beach is Open at the Center for Performing Arts with MAMMA MIA!

Review By Joe Eriole

Up In One Productions’ presentation of the wildly popular sensation, Mamma Mia!, began its four week run at the Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck to a packed and enthusiastic house. With music and lyrics by Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Anderson and book by Catherine Johnson, the iconic and irresistible ABBA songbook tells the story of Sophie, a young woman searching for her birth father. Sophie has obtained a few leads by peeking at her mother’s diary from 21 years ago. The impetus to seek out her father is her impending wedding. The play opens on (and never leaves) the idyllic Greek island where the wedding will take place, and where the three potential dads met and courted Sophie’s mother, Donna, two decades earlier. Each of them moved on from the fling all those years ago, but Donna stayed, hoping to transform the island into a resort, and making it a home for her and Sophie. Donna has never told any of the men that they may be Sophie’s father, and indeed, she does not know herself which of the three it might be.

To say that the script strains credulity here and there is to put it charitably; the likelihood that the three potential dads, or Donna, would need Two Acts (or two hours), to put two-and-two together is clearly a stretch. But, in weaving the story using the lyrics of these incredibly appealing songs, which were not originally written to be linked together, were released generations ago, and in some cases, decades apart, is actually a happy and effective achievement. The soundtrack of the show is a delight.   

This production makes an impression before the first word is spoken, or the first note sung. The set of the Greek Island Taverna is lovely, and in the Center’s space, where the audience enters the house by crossing onto the stage, the beach setting is particularly inviting. As designed by Will Cornell and Keli Syder, and with Ms. Snyder as the Scenic Artist, the set is a star of the show in its own right.

Directed and choreographed by Kevin Archambault, the production manages to present sharply coordinated performances of the large company numbers which are reminiscent of those put on the much larger London and Broadway stages where the show was brought to life, despite the Center’s more intimate stage space. The live pit orchestra, perched high above the Taverna the entire show, is led through the lively and challenging score by veteran helmsman Matt Woolever.

Rachel Karasay gives us a Sophie we root for; a delightful characterization who we have no doubt is the great achievement of her mother’s life, the great love of her fiancee, and the apple of her many fathers’ eyes. Amy LeBlanc as Donna is believable in her struggles to keep the dream of the Taverna alive while navigating the challenges of single motherhood, and wonderfully resistant to the sudden appearance of her former paramours. Ms. LeBlanc also does justice to the show’s two most moving songs, Slipping Through My Fingers and The Winner Takes it All.

Donna’s two best friends, Rosie and Tanya (Victoria Howland and Emily Woolever, respectively) are the life of this party. Their performance of Chiquita introduces their combined talents to the audience with joyful exuberance. Woolever gives a performance clearly conveying that Tanya is more than the the objects of her desire can handle, but always plays as a true friend to the beleaguered Donna.  

Howland is a familiar face to Rhinebeck Theater-goers, and here she gives a performance so engaging that one is drawn to her no matter where she is on stage. A gifted comic actor with tremendous vocal range (notable here, where much of the music is in deceptively challenging keys), Howland is a gem in this role.

Like Donna, the newlyweds-to-be have their best friends for moral support. Jordan Stroly as Lisa and Michelle Moughan as Ali, play their roles with all the authentic enthusiasm of true friends and excited bridesmaids and are called upon in the score to add depth to various signature songs  which they each do beautifully. Likewise, Sky’s bachelor buddies, (Dennis Wakeman as the indomitable Pepper, in a scene not to be missed with Woolever and Tom Bunker as the happily recalcitrant Eddie) are comically supportive of the goings-on.

The men of Mamma Mia! are brought to life in this production by a cast of actors who lean into their roles with the happy wit required of them in this island paradise. As Sophie’s betrothed, Sky, P.J. Kraus is charmingly in love. The multi-national trio of Donna’s former suitors are played by Chris Gilbert, as Bill, who is playfully ensnared by one of Donna’s two friends (no spoiler here!), Kevin McCarthy sweetly playing Harry, a former headbanger who has settled down a bit and has a secret, and Rik Lopes, who plays the most serious present threat to win Donna’s heart, Sam, with a humor and empathy which makes it clear why he’s got a chance.   

A lot is asked of the large ensemble in this show, who fill the stage in numerous crowd-pleasing moments throughout this show, including a show-ending crowd-participation segment that will send the audience home with a memory of a beach resort somehow tucked into a theater in Rhinebeck, and the soundtrack of this joyful show in their heads for a long time after the lights come up.

The show runs through August 18. Tickets are available by phone at the Box Office at Box Office: (845) 876-3080, at the door (although advance ticket purchase is strongly encouraged), and online at  https://www.centerforperformingarts.org/all-shows-sp-1131460608/item/mamma-mia