THEATER REVIEW: “True West” @ the Ghent Playhouse [Berkshire on Stage]

May 22nd, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara
Photo by Adam Wilson-Hwang.

Photo by Adam Wilson-Hwang.

Review by Macey Levin

Sam Shepard is one of the country’s major playwrights having received nearly every award the American theatre and film industry has to offer. His major works include True West, The Tooth of Crime, Curse of the Starving Class, Buried Child (1979 Pulitzer Prize), Fool for Love, and A Lie of the Mind.

True West, first performed in 1980 at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco and currently at the Ghent Playhouse in Ghent through Sunday, June 4, has a structured plot unlike much of Shepard’s canon. In most of his other works, the story line is fractured with flashbacks and flash-forwards accompanied by extensive, often rambling monologues. This play utilizes a perceptible dramatic arc while incorporating many of Shepard’s preferred themes… the bane of family, the fabled West vs. the real West, the fallibility of the American Dream. Though there are very intense and violent scenes, True West is laced with numerous comic moments.

Taking place 40 miles outside Los Angeles, Austin (Kevin Kilb), a budding screenwriter with a suburban existence, is minding his mother’s house while she is on a trip to Alaska. His older brother Lee (Nathaniel Drake), an itinerant alcoholic small-time thief, suddenly appears after spending three months alone in the desert. Their bantering reflects their life-long contentious relationship. Lee tells his brother that he has a better idea for a film about the real West rather than Austin’s mundane love story.

After meeting Saul Kimmer (Rob Weber), a film producer who is interested in Austin’s script, Lee wheedles himself into Saul’s favor by relating his plot concept. As the acrimony between the brothers builds, an emotional undercurrent slowly leads to a reversal of attitudes. Lee is intent on writing his screenplay and Austin wants to forsake all has to live in the desert. The arrival of their mother (Stephanie Sloane) triggers a precipitous conclusion.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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Sam Shepard’s “True West” Comes to Ghent [Berkshire on Stage]

May 17th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara

Nathaniel Drake and Kevin Kilb in True West (photo: Kelly Mackerer)

The Ghent Playhouse presents Sam Shepard’s dark comedy, True West, which opens on Friday (May 19) and runs through Sunday, June 4 with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sunday afternoons at 2pm.

True West made its Broadway debut in 2000, and Shepard’s play has become a well-established contemporary masterpiece.

The Ghent Playhouse production is directed by Patrick White and introduces Nathaniel Drake to its stage, as Lee the drifter. Kevin Kilb, who was last seen in the Playhouse’s production of The 39 Steps, will play Austin, the yuppie screenwriter. Rounding out the cast is newcomer Rob Weber (as the Hollywood Producer) and Stephanie Sloane (as the brothers’ mother), who returns after 11 years, having last appeared in the Playhouse’s production of The Oldest Profession.

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“Mothers & Sons” Opens at the Ghent Playhouse on Friday [Berkshire on Stage]

March 14th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara
Wendy Power Spielmann and Ely Loskowitz in Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons” at the Ghent Playhouse. Photo: Cindy Smith.

Wendy Power Spielmann and Ely Loskowitz in Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons” at the Ghent Playhouse (photo: Cindy Smith)

The Ghent Playhouse presents the regional premier of Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons – a timely and touching contemporary play about change, reconciliation and becoming a family.

Mothers and Sons opens on Friday (March 17) and runs through Sunday, April 2 with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm.

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A Princess Named Fred, 20 Mattresses and a Pea [Berkshire on Stage]

January 19th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara
Don Dolan, Cathy Lee-Visscher, Sam Reilly and Erin Harwood (photo by Cindy Smith)

Don Dolan, Cathy Lee-Visscher, Sam Reilly and Erin Harwood (photo by Cindy Smith)

The Ghent Playhouse is conjuring up a hilarious Once Upon a Mattress – and making it a musical comedy for the entire family.

After all what else will you get when you mix one pea, 20 mattresses and a princess-to-be named Fred? You get one most unlikely musical love story, based on the popular fairytale, The Princess and the Pea. Join Queen Aggravain (played by Cathy Lee-Visscher, Playhouse Artistic Director and on-stage favorite) and King Sextimus the Silent (you will remember Don Dolan from last season’s The Weir) as they rule a small medieval kingdom in 15th Century Europe.

Once Upon a Mattress opens on Friday (January 20) and runs through Sunday, February 5 with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sunday afternoons at 2pm.

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THEATER: Ghent Playhouse Becomes an Irish Pub for “The Weir” [Berkshire on Stage]

January 21st, 2016, 3:00 pm by Sara
Monica Brady, Donald Dolan & John Wallace in The Weit. Rehearsal photos by Dan Region.

Monica Brady, Donald Dolan & John Wallace in “The Weir” (Rehearsal photos by Dan Region)

The award-winning play, The Weir, by playwright Conor McPherson, will mark its regional premier when it opens at the Ghent Playhouse in Ghent on Friay (January 22) and runs through Sunday, February 7. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm; Sunday matinee performances at 2pm. The production will be directed by Aaron Holbritter.

The drama, set in a rural Irish pub, revolves around reminiscences and the kind of banter that comes from men who have a shared upbringing. Four friends sharing drinks and stories of their personal experiences and those of others in the area in an attempt to impress a pretty newcomer to the area named Valerie. Soon their conversations, combined with more than a few drinks, turn to stories with a supernatural twist, arising from the popular preoccupations of Irish folklore: ghosts, faeries and mysterious happenings. But when Valerie tells her own story: the reason why she has left Dublin, her undoubtedly true and melancholy tale shocks the men who soon become softer, kinder and more real, leading to salvation and an eventual happy ending for two of the characters.

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Theater Review: “Little Shop of Horrors”@ the Ghent Playhouse [Berkshire on Stage]

October 16th, 2015, 1:00 pm by Sara
Audrey II and Kelly Sienkiewicz. Photo by Daniel Region.

Audrey II and Kelly Sienkiewicz. Photo by Daniel Region.

Theater review by Gail M. Burns

When staging a musical at a community theatre you often have to choose between casting an actor or a singer. In this production of Little Shop of Horrors at the Ghent Playhouse, Michael C. Mensching has cast singers and then leaned heavily on boosting the comedy and emphasizing the ensemble in order to compensate. Trouble is that Little Shop is a tragedy and not an ensemble show. The “jokes” spring directly from character and situation, both of which are tragic rather than comic in nature. This is a show where you have to laugh or else you’ll run screaming from the theater. By playing tragic figures like Seymour Krelborn and Audrey as funny happy people, the show is bled of both its pathos and its humor.

But this is community theater, and it is wonderful to see a dedicated theatrical community come together and craft a solid production of this beloved and technically difficult show. Mensching gives each of his talented singers a moment to shine, and they are often breathtaking. The story suffers, but the production entertains.

For a small cast show, Little Shop places big demands on the design crews. The set calls the interior and exterior of Mushnik’s Skid Row Florists to be visible and for movement between the two to be fluid. The interior set for the shop needs to be rearranged during musical numbers, and there is another complex interior of a dental office that needs to appear and disappear quickly for just one scene. And then there are the puppets…

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Ghent Playhouse Offers Jerry Herman’s Biggest Hits; Tom Detwiler Directs “Jerry’s Girls” [Berkshire on Stage]

March 13th, 2015, 11:00 am by Sara

Jerry's Girls

By Larry Murray

The Ghent Playhouse presents Jerry’s Girls, a musical revue of Jerry Herman’s biggest Broadway hits. Tom Detwiler is directing the production with opening night set for 8pm tonight (Friday, March 13).

If the winter blues have you down, chase them away by seeing Jerry’s Girls, a lively revue of the best-loved show tunes by Jerry Herman, who has delighted Broadway audiences since 1961 with shows like Milk and Honey, Hello Dolly!, Mack & Mabel and La Cage Aux Folles, to name a few. In addition to the title songs from these shows, also hear favorites like “I Won’t Send Roses,” “Bosom Buddies,” “I Am What I Am,” “Whatever He Ain’t” and “It Only Takes a Moment.” The music, the costumes, the lights and the incredible talent on stage will have you humming and smiling as you leave the Playhouse.

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Tom Stoppard Comedy Headed for Ghent Playhouse as “Heroes” Opens Friday [Berkshire on Stage]

January 22nd, 2015, 1:00 pm by Sara
John Trainor, George Filieau and William Sanderson in “Heroes” (photo: Daniel Region)

John Trainor, George Filieau and William Sanderson in “Heroes” (photo: Daniel Region)

The Ghent Playhouse, off Route 66 in Columbia County, will present Heroes, Tom Stoppard’s translation of Gerald Sibleyras’ play Le Vent de Peupliers, directed by Cathy Lee-Visscher. The comedy opens Friday (January 23) and will play through Sunday, February 8.

The story: In 1959, at a French retirement home for ex-servicemen, three WWI veterans spend their days sharing past glories, irritating each other and gossiping about unbearable fellow “inmates.” Only the genius of Tom Stoppard can take such a bittersweet crawl-to-the-end-of-life scenario and turn it into a hysterical romp, as the Great War heroes plan their escape.

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