REVIEW: “Saturday Night Fever” @ the Mac-Haydn [Berkshire on Stage]

July 10th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara

Kate Zulauf (Stephany) and Daniel Velasquez (Tony).

Review by Roseann Cane

The 1977 film “Saturday Night Fever” was a smash hit. Based on a 1995 New York Magazine article, Nik Cohn’s “Tribal Rites of a Saturday Night” (which Cohn admitted years later to be fictional), the film propelled John Travolta into stardom and became the best-selling dance-centered movie of all time until 2010’s “Black Swan.”

Directed by John Badham with a screenplay by Norman Wexler, and music by the Bee Gees (one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time), it’s not difficult to understand the well-deserved success of the movie. The Bee Gees were commissioned by producer Robert Stigwood to write songs for the film. Not terribly well known at the time, the group created some of the songs during a single weekend and gathered some songs they’d already written to add to the mix. “Stayin’ Alive” had already been written, and was one of the first songs ready to be used in the film. “Stayin’ Alive” will undoubtedly be forever associated with the movie, in no small part thanks to the movie’s stunning opening sequencee.

The stage musical of Saturday Night Fever, with a book by Nan Knighton in collaboration with Arlene Phillips, Paul Nicholas and Robert Stigwood, and music by the Bee Gees, opened in London in 1998, and on Broadway the following year. It is now playing at Chatham’ Mac-Haydn Theatre, directed by John Saunders.

The show opens with “Stayin’ Alive,” too, and in this production, the number falls flat. While James Kinney usually does a superb job choreographing the excellent dancers who grace the Mac-Haydn’s round stage, in this attempt to recreate the busy thoroughfare (86th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn), the chorus walks across the stage and back in “X” formation, bumping into each other (intentionally or accidentally, I couldn’t tell), and the effect is merely one of too many people crammed in too small a space. (Happily, Kinney more than redeems himself later.)

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THEATER REVIEW: “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” at the Mac-Haydn [Berkshire on Stage]

June 14th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara
Freddy (Colin Pritchard) and company singing about all the “great big stuff” Freddy wants.

Freddy (Colin Pritchard) and company singing about all the “great big stuff” Freddy wants.

By Roseann Cane

In 1964, Marlon Brando pleasantly surprised critics and fans with his wildly funny portrayal of a goofy con artist in the film Bedtime Story. David Niven played a perfect foil – a suave, gentlemanly con artist – with Shirley Jones completing the triumvirate as their demure, naive prey.

The remake, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, appeared in 1988, with Steve Martin and Michael Caine reprising the Brando and Niven roles with Glenne Headly stepping in for Jones. (Just before I sat down to write this, I was sad to learn that the very gifted Ms. Headly had died.) The writers cleverly added a contemporary plot twist, and this version was every bit as hilarious as the original, if not more so.

2005 brought the Broadway opening of the stage version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with music and lyrics by David Yazbek and book by Jeffrey Lane. Although the show received mixed reviews in the U.S., it was wildly successful in the U.K., and enjoyed a good, long run on Broadway. It was nominated for a slew of Tony and Drama Desk awards, with Norbert Leo Butz garnering one of each.

The current production at the Mac-Haydn Theatre, which opened last weekend, was my first time seeing it on the stage. The Mac is a rather small theater in the round, which presents some real challenges for a director staging a big, brassy musical, and I have been impressed on more than one occasion to observe their directors rising to the challenge, and then some. For the most part, director John Saunders did an admirable job, as did the actors he directed. The show opened with Sebastiani Romagnolo’s well-choreographed riot of singer/dancers seemingly emerging from everywhere in the house to the stage and back with effortless abandon. To make such well-executed chaos seem effortless is an impressive accomplishment.

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“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” Opens at Mac-Haydn [Berkshire on Stage]

June 5th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara

Those Dirty Rotten Scoundrels are up to no good, but they are bringing loads of laughter to the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham, opening on Thursday (June 8) and running through Sunday, June 18.

Based on the 1988 movie, the stage musical is an irreverent, sexy, fast-paced farce. It’s the height of the social season on the French Riviera, the beautiful – and wealthy – women are arriving, and two clever con men are waiting to ply their charms, take the money and run. When the art of the con turns into a contest to see who can get the most money out of the prettiest lady the soonest, all bets (except at the roulette table) are off, and things just get funnier, until a final plot twist reveals the biggest con of all – who really is The Jackal!

Gabe Belyeu is back at Mac-Haydn to play Lawrence Jameson, a suave gentleman, a Prince, a bon vivant – all as the case (or con) demands. Mr. Belyeu is a favorite at the theater, two of his most comedic roles were last summer’s Alfie Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Gomez Addams in The Addams Family.

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They’re Back: “The Real (Desperate) Housewives of Columbia County” [Berkshire on Stage]

August 1st, 2016, 2:00 pm by Sara
They are desperate: Amy Friebke, Meg Dooley, Diedre Bollinger and Cathy Lee-Visscher (photo: Mike Molinski)

They are desperate: Amy Friebke, Meg Dooley, Diedre Bollinger and Cathy Lee-Visscher (photo: Mike Molinski)

Taconic Stage Company and Mac-Haydn Theatre have a perfect recipe for a girls’ night out on Mondays this August. The Real (Desperate) Housewives of Columbia County, a hilarious musical revue loosely based on those ubiquitous TV shows, is essentially a friendly (and boozy) battle between the weekenders and the locals in New York’s Columbia County.

The musical numbers are all original songs such as, “Don’t Fool Around on Your Broker,” “Shop Till You Drop,” “A Good Handyman Is Hard to Find,” and “It Isn’t Easy Being a Bitch.”

The limited run is four performances – today (Monday, August 1) and Monday, August 15 at 3 & 8pm. at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham. Tickets are $25 and are available by calling 518-392-9292 or go to www.machaydntheatre.org.

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“Xanadu” Rolls into Mac-Haydn Theatre Tonight [Berkshire on Stage]

September 11th, 2015, 1:00 pm by Sara
Kira (Leanne Smith) tells Sonny Malone (Patton Chandler) as he talks about his dream to have all the arts come together in a roller disco.

Kira (Leanne Smith) tells Sonny Malone (Patton Chandler) as he talks about his dream to have all the arts come together in a roller disco.

In Chatham, the Mac-Haydn Theatre’s 2015 season ends just before summer does, with music, action, excitement and fun together in a rocking, roller-skating romp as a Greek muse gets mixed up in a modern mortal’s dreams in the stage musical “Xanadu.” Based on the cult classic film starring Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton John, the show opens at Mac-Haydn tonight (Friday, September 11) and runs through Sunday, September 20.

“We’re excited about this show,” Mac-Haydn insiders tell us, “Because it is bringing roller skating back to our building, which was the area’s roller rink at one point in its history. In fact, one of our Board of Directors members told us that his parents met while roller skating here.”

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“I Know I Came in Here for Something” Lights Up Mac-Haydn [Berkshire on Stage]

June 22nd, 2015, 1:00 pm by Sara
Cathy Lee-Visscher and Dierdre Bollinger with Brian Litscher and Monk Schane-Lydon.

Cathy Lee-Visscher and Dierdre Bollinger with Brian Litscher and Monk Schane-Lydon.

If you’re of a “certain age,” you know the feeling well — you walk in to a room and stop and say, “I know I came in here for something.” Well, you’re not the only one, and now there’s a musical comedy that proves it: I Know I Came in Here for Something… (The Middle-Aged Musical!), being performed at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham tonight (June 22) and July 13.

The team that brought you last summer’s smash hit The Real (Desperate) Housewives of Columbia County, Carl Ritchie and Wayne Moore, have put together clever lyrics and catchy tunes (“The Baby Boomer Blues,” “You Haven’t Changed at All,” “Try Our Pill,” “Who Wants to Be Middle Aged?” and more) to tell the story of four folks wandering through the mazes and amazements of middle age. Columbia County, Los Angeles and Las Vegas audiences roared with delight and so will you as they tell it how it is about the dangers and delights of “getting on in years.”

Diedre Bollinger and Cathy Lee-Visscher play Woman One and Woman Two. Both were featured in last year’s Housewives, which played to non-stop laughter as a Mac-Haydn Monday show. Ms. Bollinger has a wide range of performance credits, including roles in all of Carl Ritchie’s revues, and at area and Off-Off-Broadway theaters.

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Tipsy-Turvy “Drowsy Chaperone” Brings Monica M. Wemitt Back to Mac-Haydn [Berkshire on Stage]

June 5th, 2015, 1:00 pm by Sara
Adolpho (Gabe Belyeu) gets set to seduce the bride in The Drowsy Chaperone at The Mac-Haydn Theatre in nearby Chatham, NY, June 4 to 14.  He’s actually seducing the Chaperone (Monica M. Wemitt). Jamie Grayson also stars as The Man In The Chair.  (photo: Mac-Haydn Staff)

Adolpho (Gabe Belyeu) gets set to seduce the bride in “The Drowsy Chaperone” at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham, June 4-14. He’s actually seducing the Chaperone (Monica M. Wemitt). Jamie Grayson also stars as The Man In The Chair. (photo: Mac-Haydn Staff)

With a merry mix of 1920’s musical comedy plot twists, lots of quirky characters and some great songs, The Drowsy Chaperone is at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham through June 14. You’ll be wide-awake with laughter through this “musical within a comedy,” which stars Jamie Grayson, returning to MHT to play the Man In The Chair, a lonely soul seeking to cure his ‘non-specific sadness’ by listening to his treasured recording of his mother’s favorite 1928 Broadway musical comedy.

The Man provides a running commentary on the events of the show as it unfolds in his mind and his apartment. This soon reveals that “Drowsy” means “Tipsy” as the Chaperone, played by Monica M. Wemitt, indulges her thirsty desires and then must nap to recover. If you enjoy Ms. Wemitt’s characters, just imagine her ‘tipsy’ and singing “As We Stumble Along” – need we say more?

The tipsy-turvy plot is a challenge even with explanations. The Chaperone is in charge of keeping the bride and groom-to-be apart until the wedding, but instead falls under the spell of a gigolo sent to stop the nuptials – who thinks he’s seducing the bride. Meanwhile the happy couple share a kiss – but the blind-folded groom thinks he’s kissing someone else. Then there are gangsters disguised as pastry chefs, a Follies producer who wants to keep the bride in his show and a ditzy hopeful star. Plus, a wealthy hostess who’s hoping for wedding bells of her own, a best man being overly efficient except for one little detail, and a heroine who swoops in to save the day and the wedding(s) – not to mention tap dancing, roller skating and roaring ’20s-style songs like “Toledo Surprise, Fancy Dress, Cold Feets” to make this show a binge of fun and laughs that also proves “Love Is Always Lovely in the End”.

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Eight Musicals – Including “Rent,” “Hairspray,” “The Producers,” “Xanadu” – Primed for Mac-Haydn Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

January 27th, 2015, 10:00 am by Sara
The Mac is where you find big musicals in an intimate space.

The Mac is where you find big musicals in an intimate space.

Music, action, excitement and fun are all part of the freshly announced Mac-Haydn Theatre 2015 season. It’s a summer that includes eight musicals. Five of them – yes, FIVE – are brand new to MHT shows! The most requested show from several past seasons and two other favorites are also in the schedule, which includes six Tony Award winning musicals.

Music and musicals are what Mac-Haydn is all about, and this year the sounds will range from 1920’s crooning to 1960’s musical theater hit songs to contemporary sounds. Action: from tempestuous romance to tipsy plot twists to gang rivalries to integration to roller skating – yes, we said roller skating right on Mac-Haydn’s theatre-in-the-round stage. Excitement: just in case roller skating isn’t exciting enough, there will be plenty of dynamic dancing and tap numbers, plus non-stop laughs and delightful romance. Fun: add all of that together on an oversized pizza-platter shaped stage and you get a summer full of fun – and hair-raising adventure, too – at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham.

The Baker’s Wife – The season begins with sweet music on May 21 with The Baker’s Wife, a story that serves up a tasty mix of life’s necessities: bread, love and life. A baker and his young, lovely wife come to a village that has been without bread. The villagers question the pairing – surely she is too young for him, and so it proves as the wife is wooed away. Tender love overcomes tempestuous romance in the end, life becomes different and new for all. “Meadowlark” and “Proud Lady” highlight the beautiful score. The Baker’s Wife will be performs through May 31.

The Drowsy Chaperone – A wistful man’s favorite musical recording comes to life in the ‘play within a play’ The Drowsy Chaperone, which won Tony’s for Best Score and Best Book. ‘Drowsy’ in this case means ‘tipsy,’ as the chaperone describes in “As We Stumble Along.” She’s in charge of keeping the bride and groom-to-be apart until the wedding, but instead falls under the spell of a gigolo sent to stop the nuptials who thinks he’s seducing the bride. Meanwhile, the happy couple share a kiss – but the blindfolded groom thinks he’s kissing someone else. Add in gangsters disguised as pastry chefs, a Follies producer who wants to keep the bride in his show, a ditzy hopeful star, an aviatrix to perform the wedding(s) – well, you get the idea, it’s nothing but fun from start to finish, with tap dancing, roller skating, non-stop laughter – and “Love Is Always Lovely in the End.” New this year, The Drowsy Chaperone plays June 4-14.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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