Curtain theater – Abajo El Telon http://abajoeltelon.com/ Wed, 08 Dec 2021 16:39:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 https://abajoeltelon.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/icon-120x120.jpg Curtain theater – Abajo El Telon http://abajoeltelon.com/ 32 32 Curtain in the air: Christmas musicals, plays fill local theaters | La Sentinelle – Local scene https://abajoeltelon.com/curtain-in-the-air-christmas-musicals-plays-fill-local-theaters-la-sentinelle-local-scene/ Wed, 08 Dec 2021 16:30:00 +0000 https://abajoeltelon.com/curtain-in-the-air-christmas-musicals-plays-fill-local-theaters-la-sentinelle-local-scene/ David N. Dunkle for the Sentry Screenwriter David Berenbaum hit a vacation home in 2003 when he created the screenplay for “Elf,” a fish-out-of-water comedy starring Will Ferrell that almost immediately took its place in the air. Christmas of American culture. Nearly two decades later, “Elf” maintains a strong hold on the public imagination, airing […]]]>

David N. Dunkle for the Sentry

Screenwriter David Berenbaum hit a vacation home in 2003 when he created the screenplay for “Elf,” a fish-out-of-water comedy starring Will Ferrell that almost immediately took its place in the air. Christmas of American culture.

Nearly two decades later, “Elf” maintains a strong hold on the public imagination, airing multiple times each December with seasonal staples like “A Christmas Story”, “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” . This story, about a lost elf seeking his true origins in New York City, even widened its reach with a popular music production that is currently on stage at Allenberry Playhouse.

The musical, which runs through December 19 at the historic Monroe Township Theater near Boiling Springs, premiered on Broadway in 2010, with a score by Matthew Sklar (music) and Chad Beguelin (lyrics). The musical, adapted from Berenbaum’s original work by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan, differs from the film in some ways, including the narration of Santa Claus rather than Papa Elf and a less Scrooge portrayal of Buddy’s real father, Walter. Hobbs.

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The musical, which follows the adventures of a life-sized elf named Buddy as he searches for his real father in New York City, has proven to be a lasting success for adults and children alike, even in the uncertain environment. and masked created by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dustin LeBlanc, whose production company Keystone Theatrics is hosting shows in Allenberry.

“We’ve been full for the whole race for about two weeks now,” said LeBlanc. “Ha!”

LeBlanc believes the family “Elf” is here to stay.

“This multigenerational appeal is hard to find in a Christmas spectacle,” he said. “Even a standard like ‘A Christmas Carol’ doesn’t necessarily appeal to children. But ‘Elf’ has it all. The kids were very entertained and having a good laugh, but the book is also very smart and witty and has jokes and clips that adults will enjoy. He has this perfect formula.

Christmas productions

Speaking of “A Christmas Carol”, it’s still alive and well in the Midstate Theater.

Carlisle Theater’s Players on High will give a steampunk twist to Charles Dickens’ classic at the West High Street Theater from December 16-19.

After a year of downtime due to the pandemic, Open Stage also brought back a live-action version of the hauntingly popular Christmas Eve folk tale of a Victorian-era miser, once again putting the dreaded Nicholas Hughes in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. “A Christmas Carol” runs through December 23 at the Professional Theater in downtown Harrisburg. This new reimagining of the poignant story of Dickens’ redemption is adapted by Stuart and Rachel Landon of Open Stage.

“We missed to present ‘A Christmas Carol’ in person last season,” said production artistic director Stuart Landon. “The theater is fueled by the public-artist relationship. Our audience missed our artists. (This show) is the perfect opportunity to catch up with your favorite characters and get back to the theater.

Open Stage is unleashed at Christmas this year, with multiple shows and concerts.

This weekend, four people named Carol will sing about their feelings about the holiday season in a program called “Christmas is Canceled” (which may provide a clue to their general take on the subject). The Carolin ‘Carols will perform at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with tickets at $ 11.

These two concerts will follow performances of another Christmas event, a solo comedy called “Who’s Holiday”, which will also be offered on Sunday, Wednesday and December 17, 18 and 22. The production stars Rachel Landon as Cindy Lou Who in an adults-only version of Dr. Seuss’ story on the Grinch.

Figgy Pudding, a jazz-rock fusion group featuring the musical talents of Anthony Pieruccini, Jeremy Blouch, Cory Paternoster and Mike Krall, will also be added to “Who’s Holiday”. These concerts, also priced at $ 11 per ticket, will start at 9:30 p.m. on December 22 and 23.

For more information on show times, tickets, and COVID-19 precautions, visit the Open Stage website at openstagehbg.com.

Musical tour

The Hershey Theater is hosting another touring production of a Broadway hit later this month, when “The Prom” arrives for a week-long stay at the Derry Township Auditorium.

“The Prom,” set to open on December 28 and run through January 2 at the 1,900-seat theater, is a musical about Broadway stars who inject themselves into small town politics with results mixed. The show features music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Beguelin and Bob Martin. Yes, it’s the same creative team behind “Elf the Musical”.

Ticket prices for “The Prom” range from $ 19 to $ 86.

The show is based on an actual event from 2010, when a prom in Mississippi was canceled by the school board rather than allowing a young lesbian couple to attend, one of them in a tuxedo. With the help of the courts and celebrities such as NSYNC’s Lance Bass, conductor Cat Cora and rock band Green Day, the ball finally took place, although most of the students attended another ball hosted by the parents in a secret place.

The show rewrites history a bit, including moving the location to a high school in Indiana and rearranging the timeline of certain events to create a more compelling ending than what happened in real life.

“The Prom” ran for just over 300 Broadway performances in 2018-19, and apparently did not recoup its $ 13.5 million investment. This national tour was supposed to start in February but was delayed by several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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Pandemic theater coverage has changed, but the rewards remain https://abajoeltelon.com/pandemic-theater-coverage-has-changed-but-the-rewards-remain/ Mon, 06 Dec 2021 16:28:45 +0000 https://abajoeltelon.com/pandemic-theater-coverage-has-changed-but-the-rewards-remain/ There was a time when the most pressing challenge a theater critic faced was punctuality: arriving on scene at curtain time and delivering the critic on time. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed that. In response to recommendations from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control, many theaters now require spectators […]]]>

There was a time when the most pressing challenge a theater critic faced was punctuality: arriving on scene at curtain time and delivering the critic on time.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed that.

In response to recommendations from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control, many theaters now require spectators to wear masks and present proof of vaccination (or a negative COVID test) as well as a coin. photo ID, which means it takes longer to enter the venue.

It helps if customers have their vaccination confirmation (either a card or cell phone photo) or a negative test result ready for the ticket taker. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Onlookers rummaging through their purses or rummaging through their wallets to locate the missing document can lead to long queues and delayed start times.

But it’s a small price to pay to ensure the safety of employees, bailiffs, actors, team and clients.

Safety concerns prompted Paramount Theater to introduce its vaccination policy last summer before resuming in-person theatrical performances with its cover of “Kinky Boots,” which opened on August 27.

The Aurora Theater decision was born out of concerns about the health and safety of its performers, employees and patrons, said Tim Rater, President and CEO of Paramount.

“We have an obligation to protect everyone, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” he said of the policy, which he called a financial necessity.

Unlike the Goodman Theater, including “School Girls; However, The African Mean Girls Play ”delayed by the pandemic opened on August 2 with a mask and social distancing in place but no vaccination requirements, reduced capacity was not an option for Paramount. Under the state’s social distancing recommendation at the time, Paramount would be limited to 419 people in a theater that can seat 1,843 people. According to Rater, Paramount cannot produce a show for 400 viewers and remain financially viable.

Other Chicago-area theaters including Marriott, Metropolis, Buffalo Theater Ensemble, Goodman, Northlight, Chicago Shakespeare, and Broadway in Chicago followed Paramount’s lead. About 80 currently have COVID-19 vaccination and / or testing protocols in place.

The pandemic has also affected artistic choices. When the Lincolnshire Marriott and Oakbrook Terrace’s Drury Lane resumed indoor performances, they did so with intimate revues requiring small actors and orchestras. Other theaters have chosen to present solo shows without intermission like BTE’s “Stove Toucher”, “Who’s Holiday!” by Theater Wit. and the upcoming “Dishwasher Dreams” from the Writers Theater.

When it comes to live performances, the theatrical landscape has changed. It now requires additional adjustments on the part of theater makers and members of the public. The rewards, as always, are well worth it.


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Americana Theater Company Adds ‘Wonderful Life’ to Holiday Wonders https://abajoeltelon.com/americana-theater-company-adds-wonderful-life-to-holiday-wonders/ Thu, 02 Dec 2021 23:18:11 +0000 https://abajoeltelon.com/americana-theater-company-adds-wonderful-life-to-holiday-wonders/ Inside this replicated studio, eight actors take on 40 roles with microphones, sound effects and an ‘applause’ sign as the story of idealistic mortgage lender George Bailey unfolds. The production includes a “foley artist”, who provides sound effects. Walking in the snow, for example, said the director, is depicted “walking on cornflakes in a pan”. […]]]>

Inside this replicated studio, eight actors take on 40 roles with microphones, sound effects and an ‘applause’ sign as the story of idealistic mortgage lender George Bailey unfolds. The production includes a “foley artist”, who provides sound effects. Walking in the snow, for example, said the director, is depicted “walking on cornflakes in a pan”.

Savell said the resulting experience was interesting. “We do not imitate the original artists,” she said. But “there are certain rhythms you want to hear. The style of the 1940s era, the way the actors portray their characters. The result of reproducing a familiar cinematic work on a different medium, she said, was “very touching and very funny.”

The cast includes Americana Society members Jesse M. Sullivan, David Friday, Joshua Nicholson and Erin Friday, joined by guest performers Johan Woods and Ciera Miller. Many of the series’ cast were involved in the company’s first production of the play four years ago.

After two performances on December 5, the curtain will rise on Wednesday and Thursday December 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. Saturday December 11 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 12 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are available at americanathatre.org. For COVID-19 protocols, see plymouthguild.org/about.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” isn’t the only theatrical offering in Plymouth this season. Playing all the lead roles in a beloved vacation story, award-winning actor and former South Shore resident Neil McGarry performs his solo production of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at the Spire Theater. The show is available for one evening only, Wednesday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, go to spirecenter.org. Spire guidelines require spectators to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the performance and to disguise themselves in the theater.

A full theatrical production of “A Christmas Carol” takes place at the Company Theater, located at 30 Accord Park in Norwell, with performances Thursday through Sunday through December 19. The evening curtains go up at 7:30 p.m. Sunday mornings start at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at www.companytheatre.com. Spectators are required to wear masks inside the theater, as are company staff and volunteers interacting with the audience.

A holiday activity aimed at children and families, the Habitat for Humanity gingerbread building on the South Shore will raise funds for Habitat’s ongoing efforts to build affordable homes. Executive Director Beth Lyons said attendees will receive gingerbread house kits donated by The Catered Affair in Rockland. Teams can bring their own holiday decorations to design their homes, and free prizes will be awarded to participants.

“The first goal is to introduce South Shore Habitat to the local community and reach a new audience,” Lyons said.

The goal is to raise $ 4,000 to fund Habitat’s current project in Hingham on Whiting Street, where the non-profit will build two affordable homes.

“Demolition and site preparation is currently underway,” said Lyons. “We are planning a first shovelful of soil in the spring. “

The event takes place on Saturday, December 11 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hingham Congregational Church, 378 Main Street. All participants must wear masks, Lyons said.

Local libraries also provide opportunities to celebrate the holidays. The Kingston Public Library will offer two holiday music performances this month at the city’s Adams Center at 33 Summer Street. Drummer Kareen Sanjaghi will lead his group in a holiday music concert featuring “syncopation and improvisation” on Thursday, December 9 at 6 pm. It’s a free program, but registration is required. To register and for more information, visit the online calendar at kingstonpubliclibrary.org.

Pembroke resident Matt York will perform a “Songs and Stories” program the following Thursday, December 16, also at 6 p.m. at the Adams Center. The library describes the show as an hour of “fun stories about the history of some of the great holiday songs through the years,” as well as the performance of the songs. This event is also free and requires registration on the library website. The Kingston Public Library requires that all who participate in the programs wear a mask.

Robert Knox can be reached at rc.knox2@gmail.com.


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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Downtown New York reunion season kicks off https://abajoeltelon.com/alvin-ailey-american-dance-theaters-downtown-new-york-reunion-season-kicks-off/ Tue, 30 Nov 2021 22:55:26 +0000 https://abajoeltelon.com/alvin-ailey-american-dance-theaters-downtown-new-york-reunion-season-kicks-off/ Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater kicks off its reunion season with a one-night only fundraising gala on Wednesday, December 1 at 7 p.m. Complete with an exceptional performance in downtown New York and dinner at the Ziegfeld Ballroom. The joyous celebration of “Honoring Our Audiences, Our Inspiration” supports the creation of new artwork, scholarships for […]]]>

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater kicks off its reunion season with a one-night only fundraising gala on Wednesday, December 1 at 7 p.m.

Complete with an exceptional performance in downtown New York and dinner at the Ziegfeld Ballroom. The joyous celebration of “Honoring Our Audiences, Our Inspiration” supports the creation of new artwork, scholarships for Ailey School and Ailey’s educational programs for children.

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The co-chairs of the event are Emily & Len Blavatnik, Paulette Mullings Bradnock & Howard Bradnock, Daria L & Eric J. Wallach, Joan & Sandy Weill and Pamela D. Zilly & John H. Schaefer; the vice-presidents are Jill & Gunther Bright and Anthony A. Lewis.

This gala features the artistic director Robert battle duo tour de force Ella with the added thrill of live music from the GRAMMY® nominated singer Jazzmeia Horn, the Love stories finale portraying a bright future built on the lessons and legacy of the past, and Clifton Brown and talented students from Ailey’s school in Bird Lives !, an excerpt from Alvin Ailey’s danced tribute to jazz legend Charlie “Bird” Parker. Performance culminates with the inspiring finale of Alvin Ailey’s iconic masterpiece Revelations.

After the performance, prominent figures from entertainment, business, philanthropy and politics gather for an evening of dinner and dancing at the Ziegfeld Ballroom. Expected guests include Danielle Brooks, Dario Calmese, gymnast Nia Dennis, fashion designer Tremaine Emory, Jillian Hervey (Lion Babe), Sunny Hostin, Harry Lennix, Arthur Lewis, Ally Love, Julia Stiles, Pose Ryan Jamaal Swain, Lorraine Toussaint, Danielle Moné Truitt (“Law and order: organized crime), Jamila Wignot (director “AILEY”), Larry Wilmore and Ricardo A. Zayas (“West Side Story”). Click here for the whole Opening night gala benefit press release.

FRIDAY DECEMBER 3: MAINTENANCE SPACE – STAGE IN THE CITY CENTER

Friday December 3 Ailey reveals the world premiere of resident choreographer Jamar Roberts Waiting area, which was translated from the dance film in the center of the stage. Amidst civil unrest and our relentless threat to the natural world, Waiting area examines the ways we care. It asks the question: In what ways can we collectively accommodate each other to better navigate this new and unprecedented terrain? This overall work functions as a container, a sacred space created to give shape and contain the complex emotions of this moment. At its core, it is about healing and finding lasting paths to wholeness.

Related: Up close with CC Minton: New York student chefs turn cooking into money

Performance dates: eve of December 3, eve of December 9

FRIDAY DECEMBER 3: FOR FOUR – STAGE STAGE IN DOWNTOWN

Take four amazing Ailey’s dancers and add in Wynton Marsalis’ delightful jazz score – written in 4/4 – and you’ll understand why Robert Battle cheekily titled this exuberant short piece. For four. Capturing the pent-up energy of a world locked in during the pandemic, Battle expresses the will to perform and the electricity of the dancers who come together to create.

Performance dates: eve of December 3, eve of December 7, eve of December 9, eve of December 11, eve of December 17

MORE HIGHLIGHTS OF WEEK 1

SATURDAY DECEMBER 4: 50 YEARS OF CRI

50 years of Shout on Saturday, December 4 at 8 p.m., celebrates Alvin Ailey’s beloved classic dedicated to “all black women around the world, especially our mothers”. The 16-minute tour de force solo, created on his superb muse, Judith Jamison, caused a sensation when it debuted on May 4, 1971 in downtown New York and has become an enduring American work of art. . Ms. Jamison has since taught the valuable role to subsequent generations of Ailey women, such as Jacqueline Green who is seen performing the iconic work from the current Netflix film “Really Love.”

Performance dates: eve of December 4, eve of December 15

MORNING SERIES

On Sunday afternoon, watch a lively performance and then stay for a free Q&A with Ailey’s acclaimed dancers at the theater.

Performance dates: Dec. 5 matt, 12 matt, 19 matt

BLUE SUITE AILEY EXTENSION WORKSHOP – DECEMBER 4

Join world-renowned dancer, former Ailey Company member and Ailey Extension instructor, Sarita Allen for a special Alvin Ailey choreography learning workshop Blue Suite Saturday, Dec. 4 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET. Blue Suite is often documented as Mr. Ailey’s first masterpiece, where he found his own miraculous voice as a creative artist presenting real people on the concert dance scene, defining his choreographic genius. As Jennifer Dunning wrote in her book Alvin Ailey: A Life in the Dance, “[Blues Suite] takes place in a “sports house”. The characters are the men and women who frequent the place, drink, dance and flirt to the music of the blues during a night that ends with the morning sounds of a train and church bells. This workshop is accessible in the studio and online.

Related: Houdini’s former home in Harlem seeks $ 4.6 million

CALENDAR LIST INFORMATION

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, beloved as one of the world’s most popular dance companies, returns to the downtown New York stage from December 1 to 19, 2021 for a season that has become a joyous winter tradition led by artistic director Robert Battle who marks a decade of driving the Company forward, Ailey’s extraordinary dancers will stir audiences with world premieres, new productions, repertoire favorites and classics like the masterpiece. American work Revelations, acclaimed as a must-see for all. Tickets starting at $ 29 are on sale and can be purchased at the New York City Center Box Office, through CityTix® at (212) 581-1212 or online at www.alvinailey.org Where www.nycitycenter.org. Discounted tickets are available for Ailey Super Fans who purchase tickets for more than one performance, for students with appropriate ID, and for groups of 10 or more (discounts do not apply not at $ 29 tickets). The Saturday Family Matinee series includes a post-performance Q&A with the Ailey dancers and increased ticket availability at $ 29; but buy early for the best selection of seats. For group sales, call 212-405-9082 or email groupsales@alvinailey.org. For more information visit www.alvinailey.org.

Performance time:

Opening Night Gala (December 1) 7:00 p.m. (note curtain time earlier)

Tuesday to Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m.

Friday and Saturday evening 8:00 p.m.

Sunday mornings at 3:00 p.m.

TICKET TO DANCE

Spectators are invited to join in the dancing at Ailey Extensionreal lessons for real people with “Ticket to Dance”. First-time students can redeem their show ticket stub for a free dance or fitness class, in the studio or virtually. The offer is valid until February 28, 2022.

Related: Uptown board member Rodriguez calls for expansion of crash investigation team

THE NEXT PERFORMANCE HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:

TUESDAY DECEMBER 7: BATTLE 10E BIRTHDAY

A battle 10e The anniversary program is unveiled on Tuesday, December 7 at 7:30 p.m., marking a decade of visionary leadership from Creative Director Robert Battle that has taken the company forward in exciting ways into a seventh decade. The program features a new production of the sensual and swirling duo of Robert Battle Unfold, evoking the tenderness and ecstasy in the air “Since Le Jour” by Gustave Charpentier sung by the incomparable Léontyne Price. The evening also includes Ella, for four, Inside, Love stories final, Mass, and Takademy. Proceeds from the December 11 performance will go to the Ailey Dancers’ Resource Fund, which helps current and former members of the company with career transition grants, creative endeavors, or emergency loans.

Performance dates: eve of December 7, eve of December 11, eve of December 17

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9: CELEBRATE JAMAR ROBERTS

A special program on Thursday, December 9 at 7:30 p.m. celebrates Ailey’s resident choreographer Jamar roberts, in a farewell performance for someone who left an indelible mark as a dancer for two decades and now performs fascinating dances that artfully address contemporary issues such as gun violence and, more recently, the effect devastating pandemic and police misconduct on black bodies and black lives. Before moving to the forefront of creating dance-on-film during the pandemic, Roberts’ dance delighted Ailey’s audiences, receiving rave reviews since 2002. Roberts received a 2016 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performer for her achievements sustained “for having impeccably represented the traditional values ​​of modern classical dance while opening new avenues with her sublime artistry, technical precision and passionate presence with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.” The program will feature his Waiting area, special performances by Roberts in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, a newly created solo, You are the golden hour that would soon fade away, and more. The evening will also include a call from Dancers Responding to AIDS to raise essential funds for those battling the disease.

Photo credit: 1) 2) AAADT’s + Jacqueline + Green by Paul Kolnik. 3)


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Valley News – Jim Kenyon: Northern Stage plan would raze buildings, not raise the curtain https://abajoeltelon.com/valley-news-jim-kenyon-northern-stage-plan-would-raze-buildings-not-raise-the-curtain/ Sun, 28 Nov 2021 16:41:45 +0000 https://abajoeltelon.com/valley-news-jim-kenyon-northern-stage-plan-would-raze-buildings-not-raise-the-curtain/ The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC, describes negligent demolition as when an “owner intentionally allows a historic property to suffer serious deterioration, potentially beyond the point of repair.” . Is this happening at 160 Gates St. in downtown White River Junction? It certainly looks like this. The two-story house […]]]>

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC, describes negligent demolition as when an “owner intentionally allows a historic property to suffer serious deterioration, potentially beyond the point of repair.” .

Is this happening at 160 Gates St. in downtown White River Junction?

It certainly looks like this.

The two-story house and the adjacent barn – the last farm building in the town center – date from the 1880s. There is no doubt that they need work.

Ken Parker, owner of the property and former Hartford breeder, estimates that repairing and upgrading current building codes could cost between $ 735,000 and $ 1 million.

The buildings having “fallen into a state of disrepair” to the point that their rehabilitation is not financially viable, Parker seeks the approval of the city to demolish them.

It would be a shame.

Both buildings are considered “contributing structures” to the White River Junction Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

They “help tell the story of downtown White River Junction,” said Laura Trieschmann, the state’s historic preservation officer, in an interview.

Some members of the Hartford Planning Commission and the Hartford Design Review Committee are far from excited about Parker’s plan. At a meeting on November 1, planning committee members John Heath and Colin Butler even raised the issue of the “negligent demo”.

But it looks like Hartford officials will be hard pressed to spare the two structures from a wrecking ball. Under the city’s zoning ordinance, the owner of a historic building is only required to demonstrate that “the rehabilitation of the building, or part of it, would cause undue financial hardship.” (The ordinance also allows the demolition of historic buildings deemed “structurally defective,” but Parker does not make that argument.)

The planning commission is expected to approve Parker’s demolition request at its December 6 meeting.

After Wilder’s Cathy Melocik heard about the upcoming vote, she took to Hartford’s mailing list to let residents know about the issue.

“Our history is crumbling, building by building,” said Melocik, who has lived in Wilder for over 20 years.

For 45 years, Parker ran his insurance agency in the apartment building, which was originally a single-family home. Mae Gates, a key figure in the early development of the village’s inner city, owned the house until 1891, according to the writings of the Hartford Historical Society.

The building has been vacant since Parker sold its insurance agency in 2018. A wooden “Parker Agency” sign still swings from a post in the front yard. A gray Cadillac, whose license plate expired in 2006, sits next to the bard.

Parker told the Planning Commission at its November 1 meeting that the house suffered extensive water damage in March, after the furnace stopped working, causing pipes to freeze and burst. Parker valued the repairs between $ 195,000 and $ 200,000. Meanwhile, Parker estimated the demolition would cost around $ 40,000.

I wanted to raise the issue of careless demolition with Parker, but he didn’t respond to phone messages. I was also interested to hear about his business relationship with Northern Stage, the professional theater company in White River Junction, which could benefit if the demolition is carried out.

What ?

Public records indicate that Northern Stage is ready to purchase the property once it becomes vacant. If all goes as planned, Northern Stage would then set up accommodation for its employees on the site.

The acquisition of 160 Gates St. appears to fit perfectly with Northern Stage’s business strategy. In 2015, it went from the old Briggs opera house on South Main Street to new digs in what was once Miller Auto, a car dealership and repair shop, on Gates Street.

The state-of-the-art, $ 9 million theater was a welcome addition to the downtown area. If only Northern Stage had just stopped there.

Instead, the nonprofit embarked on a real estate buying spree, spending more than $ 1 million on three downtown properties that previously served as affordable rental housing. Northern Stage says it needs apartments for its guest artists and seasonal staff.

In 2018, Northern Stage purchased the old Twin State Typewriter building, which has five apartments upstairs. Last year he bought a six-apartment house on Gates Street, a few doors down from the theater. In April, she bought a two-story apartment building – once a single-family home – on the same street.

He is now the “option holder” on 160 Gates. The city valued the property at $ 264,700 this year, but I couldn’t find any public records showing how much Northern Stage agreed to pay.

With the support of its supporters with deep pockets, Northern Stage can afford to play the real estate game of the Upper Valley. But it comes at a price for fixed income residents and the working class.

In April, I wrote about a 60-year-old kitchen worker, a retired Dartmouth College housekeeper and an elderly disabled woman who were evicted from the affordable apartments in which they had lived for years to make room for the employees of Northern Stage.

And now the plot thickens.

Parker submitted his demolition permit application to 160 Gates on September 10. However, public records indicate that Northern Stage entered the scene much earlier.

In June 2019 – more than two years before Parker formalized his intentions – Northern Stage approached the state’s District 3 Environmental Commission, which covers Hartford, about a housing project it was considering for Gates Street.

Eric Bunge, Special Projects Manager at Northern Stage, requested what is known as a “jurisdictional opinion” under Bill 250, the state’s Land Use and Development Act.

Northern Stage wanted to know if the potential project required a Bill 250 permit.

What did Northern Stage have in mind?

Linda Matteson, the District 3 Environmental Commission coordinator, wrote that Northern Stage proposed to “demolish or convert the existing buildings at 160 and 178 Gates Street into staff quarters of up to 39 units.” (The house at 178 Gates is the one Northern Stage bought in April.)

Matteson ruled that Northern Stage would need a permit under Bill 250, noting that the proposed project was for 10 or more units and had no “affordable housing” component.

Apparently, that was enough for Northern Stage to curtail its grandiose plans. During the planning committee meeting, Bunge said Northern Stage wanted to build nine apartments at 160 Gates.

But that’s conditional on Parker getting his demolition permit. And Northern Stage is doing its best to keep the city going. To bolster Parker’s case, he brought in Bread Loaf Corp., a construction and design firm in Middlebury, Vermont. (Bread Loaf built the new Northern Stage Theater and also renovated the Hartford Municipal Building.)

In a November 10 letter to city officials, James Pulver, Bread Loaf’s vice president of architecture, wrote that the 160 Gates house is in “very poor condition and requires extensive selective demolition and rehabilitation to make it usable “.

Bread Loaf estimates that rehabilitating existing structures would cost $ 990.00 more than building nine new apartments on the property.

“Based on Northern Stage Company’s working relationship with (Bread Loaf), we understand that there is no reasonable return without building demolition,” Pulver wrote.

Last week I asked Irene Green, Managing Director of Northern Stage, about her organization plans for 160 Gates.

Northern Stage “explores what is possible” with Parker and the city, she replied. “Like many employers and residents of the Haute Vallée, Northern Stage faces the lack of workforce housing in our region,” she added. “We continue to seek options to address the local housing shortage and its impact on our programs and services as well as our community. ”

I’m not sure bulldozing a historic home is the way to go, or for Northern Stage to promote its image as a community-conscious neighbor.

What if Parker and Northern Stage don’t get what they want?

Considering Parker didn’t market ownership – giving Northern Stage the first dibs – it’s hard to say. Ideally, potential buyers who support the home rehabilitation could come forward. Grants for the preservation of historic buildings may also be available.

Even if the planning committee vote goes according to plan, the fight is not necessarily over. Anyone participating in the proceeding has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Vermont Environmental Court.

There is also a chance that Act 250 could still come into play, Trieschmann, the state’s historic preservation officer, told me. It could be argued that the state’s environmental district decision requested by Northern Stage in 2019 also covers the demolition of the historic property, she said.

This could put the brakes on what Parker and Northern Stage have negotiated. It would serve them well to neglect history.

Jim Kenyon can be contacted at jkenyon@vnews.com.


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Take a behind-the-scenes look at how Seattle’s ACT Theater creates the magic of “A Christmas Carol” https://abajoeltelon.com/take-a-behind-the-scenes-look-at-how-seattles-act-theater-creates-the-magic-of-a-christmas-carol/ Fri, 26 Nov 2021 14:00:00 +0000 https://abajoeltelon.com/take-a-behind-the-scenes-look-at-how-seattles-act-theater-creates-the-magic-of-a-christmas-carol/ Over a hundred stage lights rested on the floor of the Allen Theater at the ACT Theater in downtown Seattle. The stage floor had already been transformed into a cobblestone design, and the actors were lounging in sweatpants and khakis in the front rows and on stage between rehearsals. Costume and wig stores were bustling, […]]]>

Over a hundred stage lights rested on the floor of the Allen Theater at the ACT Theater in downtown Seattle. The stage floor had already been transformed into a cobblestone design, and the actors were lounging in sweatpants and khakis in the front rows and on stage between rehearsals. Costume and wig stores were bustling, hands and threaded needles hovering over fabrics and hairpieces.

It was the first week of rehearsals for ACT Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”, which opens on December 7, and the theater was coming to life for the first time in 20 months.

Coming in its 46th year in December, ACT’s “A Christmas Carol” is a holiday tradition for many in Seattle, and, in this production, the chilling effect of Jacob Marley rising from the ground (or sometimes from the bed of Ebenezer Scrooge to surprise audiences) to warn old friend Scrooge of his cranky ways has become part of the tradition some viewers anticipate each year. Last year, theatergoers missed out on the viewing pleasure when, due to the pandemic, ACT produced an engrossing audio version of the play instead.

This year, as the holiday classic returns to the stage with an in-person audience for the first time since 2019, we got a behind-the-scenes look to see what it takes to get the ghosts out of the ground and the humbugs changing their way. melody, and to create spellbinding holiday magic on stage.

Ghosts of the Deep

In just a matter of weeks, the hundred lights that were on the floor would be hanging above the stage at the Allen Theater, the costumes and wigs would be sized and suitable for their actors, and everyone – technicians, costume designers, actors. , managers – would have memorized a detailed choreography dictating the timing and location of every stage exit, costume change, sweating forehead pad and backstage button press.

Or, more precisely, in the sub-scene.

Because the Allen Theater is a round theater, with its stage in the center of the room surrounded by the audience on all sides, there are no walls for the sets to disappear behind. Instead, these stopped parts must go up or down.

Below the Allen Theater stage, there is a dark room with low ceilings and narrow passages where technicians operate several pneumatic and hydraulic elevators. On the ground, masking tape arrows direct pedestrian traffic, including one that says “head!” Warning from a pole protruding at head height, wrapped in what looks like a pink pool noodle.

James Nichols, Master Stage Carpenter, and Nick Farwell, Stage Operations Supervisor, run the show in this small dark room, watching a small TV screen for signals and operating all equipment.

At the time of the show, they operate four pneumatic elevators on the edges of the oval basement room and a large hydraulic elevator system in the center to bring essential sets (and even actors) from the darkness below into the rooms. bright stage lights.

A pull on a lever in this basement room brings a ghostly Marley out of a trap door in the stage floor to begin the journey of scaring Scrooge away from his holiday grunts. The elevator system under the Allen Theater stage is loaded each year specifically for this show.

Ready for the show, the elevator currently holds in its spare room the chair adorned with the ghost of the Christmas present and the grave that will eventually shake the famous Scrooge crank. They will each move on the main platform to be lifted to the stage when it is their turn. For now, the main platform is empty, waiting for the person who first turns this Christmas story into a ghost story – the arrival of the ghost of Jacob Marley.

Transform the cast

This year, actors R. Hamilton Wright and Amy Thone will don the tattered dresses and disheveled wig to become Marley, playing the character of every other night. (They also alternate as Scrooge.)

To transform the entire cast into these classic characters, ACT’s costume and wig departments put in hours of painstaking needle and hook work for weeks before the show, taking the steps of a cast of 20, resizing and adjusting old costumes, creating new costumes imagined by designers and directors, and giving a salon treatment to old wigs to make them ready for the show.

Breaking with previous years due to the pandemic, there will be no actors under 12 this year. (Tiny Tim, usually played by children ages 7-9, will be played by Ty Ho, 12). absolutely. Creating new costumes – like the new and beautiful flowy dress for Spirit 1, the first of the three Christmas ghosts – is a much longer process. From a simple drawn design, the costume shop creates an inexpensive cotton and muslin mockup and goes through many rounds of tweaks and tweaks before they’re ready for the show. Ditto for wigs.

Have you ever wondered how actors’ hair stays so perfectly in place and shiny after sweating for a 90 minute play? Two words: wig oven.

That’s right, the wig store has a “wig oven,” as costume store manager Amanda Mueller calls it. It’s basically a cabinet that can hold the mannequin head wig stands and works as a salon-style hair dryer. Once a week, wig master Joyce Degenfelder takes on the eight to ten hour task of washing, styling and replacing all wigs and facial hair. (Think of Scrooge’s signature mutton chops.)

Have you ever wondered how Mr. Fezziwig’s ponytail gets its curl? How does Marley’s hair straighten out? Degenfelder has tips for each of them. Fezziwig’s ponytail gets an insert of wire wrapped right in between shows. Marley’s wig is often hung upside down to let gravity do its work.

All this even before the opening of the show. On show evenings, the costume and wig departments come into action four to five hours before the curtain opens, washing and pressing the costumes, painting and putting on the wigs. Then, during the show, the costume team waits backstage with costumes laid out in any order they need, helping the actors get into their shoes and shave off the beards at times at record speed.

As the head of the costume store, Mueller oversees everything from dusting the costumes and taking them out of storage each year to details on the night of the show as to which costumes go where, on whom and when.

“Most actors play more than one character. It’s a very costumed show, ”Mueller said. “It’s a choreography. Because we do the show every year, the components work like a machine. ”

“From isolation to the community”

What becomes 90 minutes of another-world immersion for audiences begins with weeks of 12-hour days full of costume and wig making and fitting, building elevators and hanging lights. Then, during each performance, an equally awe-inspiring dance takes place behind the scenes as technicians and clothiers, stage managers and actors move with timed precision to ensure the story unfolds seamlessly on stage.

And, as Thone says, “The play is not over until you have this final element.” – the returns, the public.

“They see it for 90 minutes or two hours,” she said. “Performance is just the tip of the iceberg and underneath is this vast submerged island. … I love invisible work, it’s craftsmanship and it’s chaos and it’s love. I find that very satisfying, very moving.


For several of the show’s crew, this will be the first time they’ve done an in-person show in nearly two years, and they’re a little nervous.

“We have come back from the global death of the entire entertainment industry for a long time. Overall it was just gone. Now it’s slowly pushing back, ”said Farwell, the stage operations supervisor. “It’s just good to be back with my other family.”

ACT Artistic Director John Langs explains that this is why the story of “A Christmas Carol” seems particularly suited to the strange times we all live in.

The trip for Scrooge is “one of isolation from the community,” Langs said.

John Langs, artistic director of ACT, says Scrooge's journey into


Still, this year’s “A Christmas Carol” may look different than usual due to these weird times. Rehearsals continue with social distancing, masks, weekly coronavirus testing and, in some cases, limits on the number of people involved. These changes in the behind-the-scenes work, Langs said, could mean the story itself will be different as well.

“Everyone comes there anxious. Everyone comes there traumatized, ”Langs said to a chorus of awkward laughter.

“We’re all kind of awkward ducklings that come back into that space again and say, ‘We used to do that. We liked it. We challenged it. There were some things that were wrong with that. What are we going to do now? ‘ What will our show be like because of the way we rehearse? We really don’t know.

“A Christmas Carol”

By Charles Dickens, adapted by Gregory Falls; December 7-26; ACT Theater, 700 Union Street, Seattle; $ 27 to $ 129; acttheatre.org



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Milwaukee Chamber Theater serves Thanksgiving satire https://abajoeltelon.com/milwaukee-chamber-theater-serves-thanksgiving-satire/ Wed, 24 Nov 2021 21:21:43 +0000 https://abajoeltelon.com/milwaukee-chamber-theater-serves-thanksgiving-satire/ Native American playwright Larissa Fasthorse wastes no time breaking through the notions of quintessentially Caucasian perspectives on First Thanksgiving. his satire, Thanksgiving game, is determined to make the audience think as well as laugh and boy, does he keep his promises. In this Wisconsin premiere, the Milwaukee Chamber Theater makes the daring leap from a […]]]>

Native American playwright Larissa Fasthorse wastes no time breaking through the notions of quintessentially Caucasian perspectives on First Thanksgiving. his satire, Thanksgiving game, is determined to make the audience think as well as laugh and boy, does he keep his promises.

In this Wisconsin premiere, the Milwaukee Chamber Theater makes the daring leap from a digital streaming version of this show (premiered last season) to this on-stage version. Only two of the four actors of the old production remain; However, the new team is playing brilliantly under the direction of acclaimed actress / director Laura Gordon.

Gordon exploits every nuance of the situation, in which white teaching artists come together to create a play on First Thanksgiving. Determined to honor Native American history as well, the play’s director, Logan (Cassandra Bissell) hired what she believed to be an authentic Native American actor. However, his attempts to bridge cultural gaps go wrong. Sexy Los Angeles-based actress Alicia (Hannah Shay) notes that her stock photos are meant to reflect the many ethnicities she can play, including Native Americans.

This revelation almost throws Logan into hysteria, as she questions whether she will meet the requirements of the various grants she has received to perform the play.

As the group decides to find their politically correct way out of this mess, the playwright inserts brief chapters of elementary-level instructional guides. In one, to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the actors sing and dance to lyrics on headdresses, moccasins, blankets, bows and arrows, and a Halloween pumpkin? Hmmm. The funniest of these absurd vignettes involves a quartet of song turkeys, which are inevitably the target of a hunter (off stage). Now what elementary school kid wouldn’t like to see this?


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Comic book highlights

Meanwhile, back in class, Logan tries to save the day with the help of his “enlightened” boyfriend, who believes himself to be a skilled professional actor. In fact, Jaxton (Neil Brookshire) is a yoga / meditation enthusiast and busker around the corner who entertains the crowds at a local farmer’s market. They enlist the help of Caden (Torrey Hanson), an older professor and potential playwright who has done extensive research into harvest festival traditions stretching back thousands of years. His gruesome and racist dialogue is one of the play’s comedic highlights. While everyone in the cast should contribute to this project, laid back Alicia prefers to stare up at the ceiling and contemplate, well, nothing.

A talented cast shines a light on these stereotypical characters. As Logan, Cassandra Bissell is perhaps the most believable. Logan shows a sincere desire to “do the right thing”, even if it means violating his vegan philosophy (yes, their play will involve people who actually eat turkeys). His attraction to Jaxton (Neil Brookshire) seems to be based more on his desire to save an injured bird than on entering into a solid partnership between two adults.

Brookshire, as Jaxton, is so ashamed of his white male privilege that at one point he begs Logan to verbally whip him. Torrey Hanson, as a soft-spoken educator, craves attention as well but is content with the occasional glances and comments Alicia throws at him. Hannah Shay, in the role of Alicia, is reminiscent of the Hollywood starlets of yesteryear, satisfied with their appearance.

Sit back and laugh

Most of the time, the characters are so over the top that the audience can feel free to sit down and laugh at them. However, all is not perfect. The play has its faults; on the one hand, it tends to be “talking”. And much of the dialogue, while entertaining, dissolves into little more than liberal newspeak (which will sound like gibberish to some). The 90-minute piece (without intermission) gives the impression of running out of steam halfway through, despite the energetic efforts of the actors to keep it afloat. It also deviates in tangents that make the game lose focus.

The production elements are among The Thanksgiving game strong points. An authentic-looking classroom set (designed by Jason Fassl, who also handles the lighting) includes the hideous green painted walls – so familiar – and a large linoleum floor. Property guru Jim Guy cuts it all down to the last detail. He also creates hilarious and funny props (no spoilers here). Joseph Cerqua sets worthwhile lesson plan ideas to music, while costume designer Misti Bradford produces everything from turkey outfits to crumpled, old-fashioned teacher outfits (in the case of Torrey Hanson’s character).

In his opening remarks, Milwaukee Chamber Artistic Director Brent Hazelton mentioned that one of the goals of the company is to empower underserved populations. This piece certainly fits the company’s vision, as it embraces traditional notions of a friendly Thanksgiving meal between Pilgrims and Native Americans. The harsh reality, as history researcher Caden points out, is much darker and more enduring than mainstream America would admit.

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The Thanksgiving game continues through December 19 at the Broadway Theater Center, 158 N. Broadway. Proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test is required for entry. Masks are mandatory. For tickets, visit milwaukeechamberheatre.org or call 414-291-7800.


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Fairmont Opera House celebrates 120 years https://abajoeltelon.com/fairmont-opera-house-celebrates-120-years/ Tue, 23 Nov 2021 02:07:00 +0000 https://abajoeltelon.com/fairmont-opera-house-celebrates-120-years/ FAIRMONT, Minn. (KEYC) – For the past 120 years, buildings have risen and fallen in downtown Fairmont, but one thing has remained the same: The Fairmont Opera House has been there since its first performance on February 11, 1902, when “The Chaperones” took the stage. Throughout the century, the Fairmont Opera House has meant something […]]]>

FAIRMONT, Minn. (KEYC) – For the past 120 years, buildings have risen and fallen in downtown Fairmont, but one thing has remained the same: The Fairmont Opera House has been there since its first performance on February 11, 1902, when “The Chaperones” took the stage.

Throughout the century, the Fairmont Opera House has meant something different to everyone who has walked through its doors.

There was a time in 1980 when the State Theater Company ended its lease. The doors were closed, the roof was leaking and plaster was falling from the ceiling, but the curtain still rises and it is what it is today.

“The fact that we’re still here means something, I mean, it’s seen a lot. He has seen a lot of it throughout history. You never want to miss it, it’s important and it’s something we’re very proud of, ”said Blake Potthoff, General Manager, Fairmont Opera House.

Now looking to the future, the Fairmont Opera House tries to keep the tradition alive, but also to bring opera into the modern world.

With the help of Potthoff, the Fairmont Opera House obtained a whole new bar and liquor license, which in turn made it easier to organize new festivities and the arrival of bigger musical groups like Jerrod Niemann.

“From Madison to Wyoming, or wherever they go, if they can catch them on a Tuesday night and have a top performer here, that’s what we want to start doing,” Potthoff said.

The Fairmont Opera House has had two other names in its history, Haynic and Nicholas Theater, as well as renovations including the installation of a new ticket office and its subsequent removal.

No matter how many changes and names given to the Fairmont Opera House, it always remains the heart of the community.

“It’s not just a place for one specific thing, it wouldn’t exist or live that long if it did. It’s not just for dance, theater or opera. C ‘is for the music and for the experiences, and the more we can offer those experiences to people in our community and a variety of experiences, the more people we can influence and the more established we can be and continue to influence our community, ”he said. Potthoff explained.

Over the years, people have sat in one place to watch family, friends, loved ones, or complete strangers do what they love on stage. Potthoff and the staff at the Fairmont Opera House hope this will stay the same for 120 years.

Copyright 2021 KEYC. All rights reserved.


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Guy Farmer: The Show Must Go On https://abajoeltelon.com/guy-farmer-the-show-must-go-on/ Sun, 21 Nov 2021 03:51:22 +0000 https://abajoeltelon.com/guy-farmer-the-show-must-go-on/ Guy Farmer By Guy W. Farmer Saturday 20 November 2021 “The show must continue.” Longtime Western Nevada Musical Theater Company producer and director Stephanie Arrigotti and her production team lived up to that old show business slogan earlier this month when they presented “Once Upon a Mattress” at the community center despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. […]]]>

Guy Farmer

“The show must continue.” Longtime Western Nevada Musical Theater Company producer and director Stephanie Arrigotti and her production team lived up to that old show business slogan earlier this month when they presented “Once Upon a Mattress” at the community center despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. How did they do it?
“I wasn’t sure this production (‘Mattress’) could finish its run until the final curtain fell last Sunday,” Arrigotti – let’s call her Stephanie – told me in an email interview. . It was a new level of stress for a producer who had been directing popular musicals at the community center for over 30 years.
Here’s what happened: On November 1, five days before the scheduled opening of “Mattress,” Stephanie’s principal lady Darby Beckwith tested positive for COVID-19. “Not only did the show go without a lead actress,” Stephanie said, “there were concerns that the rest of the cast was infected.” Stephanie called Melanie Bratsch, who had played a lead role in “Mamma Mia” three years ago, and told her that she “was born to play” the role of Winnifred in “Mattress”.
“Unfortunately,” Stephanie added, “she only had four days to learn the role.” While Bratsch told Stephanie she couldn’t learn the role so quickly, our intrepid producer was ordering costumes for her new lead actress online. But wait, there is more.
Bratsch “worked as hard as a human could work,” continued Stephanie, so hard in fact that she lost her voice on November 3, three days before the show opened. “And we were here with two fabulous Winnifreds, one with COVID and a mute,” Stéphanie lamented. But the show has to go on, so Stephanie recruited veteran WNMTC performer Andie Wilkerson to sing the lead role of the orchestra pit on opening night, and that’s exactly what happened, to the greatest pleasure of the public.
The Carson City audience only supports our local theater company. Beckwith returned to sing the part of Winnifred last Saturday when I saw the exhilarating show. Everyone was happy and Stephanie survived the most serious challenge of her successful career. The show continued.
“We are so lucky to have an incredible talent like Stephanie to bring incredible theater to our community,” said chamber director Ronni Hannaman, and I totally agree because I believe live theater is essential to the quality of life and culture of a community. health.
“We strive to uplift the community economically, culturally and personally,” Stephanie told me. “Performing arts organizations (like the WNMTC) enrich the image of our capital and provide cultural opportunities for those who live here. Do they ever do, because most of the artists in his shows are recruited from the region.
Stephanie’s loyal and talented production team includes choreographer / assistant director Gina Kaskie Davis, conductor Kevin Murphy and vocal director Judy Monson. They work as a team to produce live shows that attract clients from 20 states and Canada. Another team that contributes to our quality of cultural life is the husband / wife duo of David and Elinor Bugli, who promote classical and jazz music – including the popular summer music festival “Jazz and Beyond” – in our city for over 25 years.
I’ve seen many community theater productions over the years, most recently at the prestigious Carpenter Center in Long Beach, and WNMTC shows are at the top of my list. So how about bringing these high quality musicals to the Stephanie Arrigotti stage at the Bob Boldrick Theater? She deserved it because she owns this scene.
Guy W. Farmer is a proud patron of the Western Nevada Musical Theater Company.


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Trouble in Mind is a surprisingly timely renewal https://abajoeltelon.com/trouble-in-mind-is-a-surprisingly-timely-renewal/ Fri, 19 Nov 2021 04:30:00 +0000 https://abajoeltelon.com/trouble-in-mind-is-a-surprisingly-timely-renewal/ Broadway review by Adam Feldman The first day of rehearsals for a 1950s Broadway play about Lynching is about to begin, and a seasoned black actress shows off the ropes to a younger comrade. “Don’t be too arrogant. They don’t like it, ”Wiletta (LaChanze) advises John (Brandon Michael Hall) on how to deal with their […]]]>

Broadway review by Adam Feldman

The first day of rehearsals for a 1950s Broadway play about Lynching is about to begin, and a seasoned black actress shows off the ropes to a younger comrade. “Don’t be too arrogant. They don’t like it, ”Wiletta (LaChanze) advises John (Brandon Michael Hall) on how to deal with their white managers. Laughter! Laugh at everything they say, makes them feel superior. Beautiful Wiletta has a smile that lights up a room, and she knows how to turn it on whether she’s happy or not; John can get irritated by her. advice – “Sounds like uncle Tommish,” he says – but she’s been in the business long enough to know a business is what it is: no theater, as he imagines, but show business. (“People of color are not in the theater.”) And in this system, even on the rare occasions when they play a role that is not a nanny or a maid, the black performers remain the helper. .

So begins the edge of Alice Childress Problem in mind, which made its Off Broadway debut in 1955 and has now achieved Great White White for the first time in an exemplary production directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. Prospects of a transfer to Broadway in the 1950s, a pre-curtain announcement informs us, fell through when Childress refused to soften the end of the play. Therefore, Problem in mind has largely been forgotten, which makes this revival of the Roundabout Theater Company an even greater revelation. It’s as if an old curtain has been lifted from a mirror: to a surprising degree, the play anticipates many conversations that have taken place over the past two years about the devaluation of black performers in the world of theater. (“We have to go further and do better,” someone concludes.) What the play demonstrates, with humor and insight, is not that Childress somehow anticipated the concerns of today, but those same concerns have existed – and, in a real way, suppressed – for a very long time.

The play Wiletta and John are rehearsing is a drama called Chaos in Belleville, directed by a reckless Hollywood bloke named Manners (as in pay attention to your) who has modern ideas about truth and motivation to act. While well-intentioned, the play shows that it was created by white men for white audiences. “If we’re superior, we have to prove it by our actions,” says her white ingenuous, played by newly arrived Yale Judy (Danielle Campbell). The title problem arises when Wiletta begins to try to offer a real creative contribution to the realism – or lack of realism – of the character she plays: the mother of a young man determined to vote, despite the danger that faces him. represents in the depths. South. “Honey, don’t think so,” Manners (Michael Zegen) tells her. “You are awesome until you start to think.”

“I hate the kind of piece that hits you over the head with the message,” says Bill (Don Stephenson), Wiletta’s blustery white costar. What keeps Problem in mind of being such a room is the texture Childress provides: shrewd points on financial realities, fun observations on power dynamics behind the scenes – Manners is a monster to his manager (Alex Mickiewicz) and an old Irish doorman ( Simon Jones) – and, above all, knowing the banter among the black actors in the play. The actors who play them shine. Chuck Cooper gives a magnificent performance as veteran character Sheldon, who has witnessed a lynching firsthand, and Jessica Frances Dukes is a hoot as a showy but practical Millie. Corn Problem in mind emphasizes LaChanze, who holds the whole piece firmly in hand. She is the other revelation of this production: although she has played serious roles in musicals during her 35-year career, this is the first time that she has starred in a Broadway play. . “I want to be an actress,” Wiletta says. “Hell, I’m gonna be one, can you hear me?” A LaChanze actress turns out to be, and not just when she sings, and a damn good at it.

Problem in mind. American Airlines Theater (Broadway). By Alice Childress. Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. With LaChanze, Chuck Cooper, Michael Zegen, Jessica Frances Dukes. Duration: 2h10. An intermission.

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Problem in mind | Photography: courtesy of Joan Marcus



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