“Coney Island”: A Musical Concert Reading @ Bridge Street Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

May 19th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara

It’s the summer of 1946, and Frankie’s back from serving in the Pacific with big dreams of takin’ New York City by storm! Hop aboard the F Train for Coney Island, the grand, old-school, Broadway-style musical comedy being presented for one performance only in a concert reading at Catskill’s Bridge Street Theatre at 2pm on Sunday (May 21).

Almost a decade in development, Catskill resident Frank Cuthbert’s swingin’ and affectionate tribute to WWII-era NYC is bursting at the seams with all the charm, grit and promise of Gotham in the postwar years. Amidst the colorful backdrop of the iconic Cyclone roller coaster and Wonder Wheel, the story follows Frankie, a war hero, who has returned to his old neighborhood with dreams of making it as a crooner. Frankie struggles with recurring nightmares of war, his parents’ skepticism about his dreams, and a dangerous rivalry with a mob-connected club owner, who threatens his singing career and is in hot pursuit of his girlfriend Patsy, an aspiring Broadway dancer. Burlesque queens, freaks, hustlers, kooch dancers, entrepreneurs, grifters, small-time (and big-time) hoods – all play a part in the nostalgic tapestry of another time and place that the musical depicts.

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“ChipandGus: A Comedy With Balls” Comes to Bridge Street Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

May 3rd, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara
Christopher Patrick Mullen as Chip and John Ahlin as Gus in “ChipandGus.” Photo William Selby.

Christopher Patrick Mullen as Chip and John Ahlin as Gus in “ChipandGus” (Photo William Selby)

While the electric give-and-take of energy between actors on stage is often referred to as “ping pong,” a new play is taking the idea quite literally. A ping pong table and fast-paced matches are prominently featured in ChipandGus, a 90-minute “comedy with balls” by actor-writers John Ahlin and Christopher Patrick Mullen, getting a three-performance run at Catskill’s Bridge Street Theatre this weekend.

In this Fat Knight Theatre production, two oddball buddies meet in the back room of a rundown sports bar in Schenectady for their weekly game. But what happens between volleys on this particular funny, sad, surprising night will change their relationship forever. Conceived over a ping pong table and written and rehearsed in basements, attics and garages, this fast, furious, smart comedy was the winner of the Overall Excellence Award for Ensemble in the 2016 NYC Fringe Festival, was selected for an extended run in the Fringe Encore Series at Soho Playhouse in NYC, and has been seen in developmental presentations in a variety of spaces, including a black box in New Jersey, a bar in Baltimore, a garage in Pennsylvania, Parkside Lounge in Manhattan, and Proctors in Schenectady.

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THEATER REVIEW: “The Official Adventures of Kieron and Jade” @ Bridge Street Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

April 26th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara

Review by Barbara Waldinger

In 2015, according to playwright Kieron Barry, he “at last achieved the long-coveted triple: broken heart, nervous breakdown and midlife crisis.” How would he get through the various stages of grief after the woman he lived with for three years left him? Barry decided to keep a diary, writing down each new thought, which led him to the idea of writing a play about the trauma he suffered, and/or a play about writing a play about his grief.

In the course of the world premiere of The Official Adventures of Kieron and Jade at Catskill’s Bridge Street Theatre, we learn that the play began as a four-hour-and-40-minute oeuvre, which his unwilling director, having been threatened by Kieron with breach of contract if she did not direct it, was able to whittle down to a 90-minute intermission-less comedy.

It had to be a comedy, says Barry, because who would be interested in the misery he suffered unless the play provoked the laughter of recognition from an audience who had gone through similar breakups? “On paper, this is a play about self-harming, mental illness, even suicide. But as long as I can make a joke out of it, it will work.”

Born in Stratford-upon-Avon and currently residing in California, Barry has written several published plays, including Tomorrow in the Battle (performed at Stageworks/Hudson), Numbers (featured in Lucy Kerber’s book “100 Great Plays for Women”) and Stockwell (for which Barry was nominated for a London Evening Standard Theatre Award).

The Official Adventures of Kieron & Jade features two accomplished performers: Jason Guy, a talented, energetic, fast-talking British actor who portrays Kieron, and Bonita Jackson, who creates more than 15 different characters, according to director John Sowle. Jackson’s talent at transforming herself into multiple characters using various accents is a tour-de force, but it is not always easy to tell them apart.

The most puzzling aspect of having only two performers, no matter how enjoyable it is to see good actors at the top of their game, is that we expect and look forward to seeing the other title character – the American singer/songwriter Jade — but it rarely happens. This leaves us to wonder whether we missed her among the other characters, and if not, why the playwright has chosen to sideline her. We do see Jade in videos and photographs projected onto a lopsided screen upstage — are these projections the real people or the actors?

Kudos to John Sowle for his visual imagery and for the amazingly inventive set — a long, triangular piece that spans the width of the stage, with a steep incline on the top (another skewed angle), along which the actors can sit, stand and lie down. Behind the incline are two small boxes that can be pulled up as seats for the actors, as well as a tennis net, and below the incline is a wall facing us with multiple doors that contain props used during the play.

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New Kieron Barry Comedy Has Its World Premiere @ Bridge St. Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

April 17th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara
Jason Guy and Bonita Jackson star in "The Official Adventures of Kieron and Jade"

Jason Guy and Bonita Jackson star in “The Official Adventures of Kieron and Jade”

When playwright Kieron Barry and his longtime girlfriend broke up, he was stunned. It took him a long time to process the ‘why’ and the ‘what did I do wrong.’ To try and sort it out, he wrote.

“Every time I had a new thought,” he says, “it was a clue.” Inevitably, the diary grew to “gargantuan proportions.” After six months, he says, “I thought, you’re doing a lot of writing about this, and, coincidentally, you’re a playwright. Clearly, the idea had been planted.”

The result is “The Official Adventures of Kieron and Jade” a comedy with its world premiere taking place at Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill on Thursday (April 20). Performances run Thursday-Sunday for two consecutive weeks. Evenings at 7:30pm; Sunday matinees at 2pm; Thursday (April 20) and Sunday, April 23 performances are pay-what-you-can.

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“Souvenir” Kicks Off Bridge Street Theatre’s Season [Berkshire on Stage]

March 15th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara

On October 25, 1944, wealthy (and tone-deaf) soprano Florence Foster Jenkins and her accompanist Cosme McMoon performed a recital at Carnegie Hall. Tickets sold out weeks in advance; an estimated 2,000 people were turned away at the door. The world of music has never quite recovered. Come share the hilarious and touching tale of this unlikely pair in the musical Souvenir at Catskill’s Bridge Street Theatre. The show kicks off on Thursday (March 16) with a pay-what-you-will performance and continues through Sunday, March 26.

Opera impresario Ira Siff, who dubbed her “the anti-Callas”, has said, “Jenkins was exquisitely bad, so bad that it added up to quite a good evening of theater … There was no end to the horribleness … They say Cole Porter had to bang his cane into his foot in order not to laugh out loud when she sang. She was that bad.” The historian Stephen Pile ranked her as “the world’s worst opera singer.” “No one, before or since,” he wrote, “has succeeded in liberating themselves quite so completely from the shackles of musical notation.”

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“Hi, Are You Single?” @ Bridge Street Theatre This Weekend [Berkshire on Stage]

February 24th, 2017, 1:00 pm by Sara
Ryan Haddad

Ryan Haddad in “Hi, Are You Single?”

Ryan has a higher sex drive than you. He also has cerebral palsy. Following a pair of standing-room-only performances at the Public Theatre’s recent Under the Radar Festival and overflow crowds and standing ovations in two separate engagements at Dixon Place in NYC, Ryan Haddad’s frank and funny Hi, Are You Single? comes to Catskill’s Bridge Street Theatre for two performances only on Saturday & Sunday (February 25 & 26). The show has adult themes and is recommended for audience members 16 and older.

Society generally assumes that people with disabilities possess no sexual drive or desire. Ryan shatters that as he attempts to navigate the gay dating pool, searching for love with equal parts humor and hurt, and finding plenty of discrimination and intolerance of difference within an already marginalized community. He hits the clubs and bars ready for glamour and excitement, but soon realizes that his cerebral palsy makes him an outsider. The men he meets there force him to confront his insecurities and examine his own judgmental behavior. But hey, not everything is so serious! Grab a margarita and say hi to Ryan on Grindr. Give him a kiss if you’d like. There’s no need to be shy and bring an attractive friend.

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Bridge Street Theatre Announces New Season of Theater & Cabaret [Berkshire on Stage]

February 22nd, 2017, 11:00 am by Sara

The Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill has announced a brilliant selection of plays for 2017 – a musical sensation, a world premiere comedy, a Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, a powerful Best New Play about impossible choices, and a lovely, intimate Lanford Wilson work especially for Veteran’s Day.

A season subscription for all five plays is now available for $100, and you can pick your performance dates and select your seats in advance, or wait until up to 24 hours before the performance you want to attend.

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Truman Capote’s “Holiday Memories” Comes to Bridge Street Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

December 6th, 2016, 2:00 pm by Sara

bosholiday

Two perennial holiday stories by Truman Capote, “The Thanksgiving Visitor” and “A Christmas Memory,” come to vivid theatrical life this month when Catskill’s Bridge Street Theatre presents Russell Vandenbroucke’s heartwarming stage adaptation Holiday Memories for eight performances – Thursdays through Sundays, December 8-18 – as their final show of 2016.

When his parents’ marriage dissolved, the young Truman Capote was left in the care of distant relatives in Monroeville, Alabama (which also served as the model for Maycomb in his childhood friend Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird). There, he formed an unbreakable friendship with the youngest of his elderly cousins, a shy, childlike spinster he called Sook. The relationship between these two ‘outcasts’ forms the basis for the stories which make up Holiday Memories, a chronicle of growing up ‘different’ in the deep South during the depths of the Great Depression and an ode to the simple joys of love shared. A holiday treat the entire family can enjoy together, the play is a terrific alternative to more traditional seasonal fare.

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