“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.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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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…

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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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Madcap Time Again as the PantoLoons Take Ghent Playhouse Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

November 25th, 2014, 1:00 pm by Sara
The Pantoloons take a bow in last year’s panto “SleepFrog” at The Ghent Playhouse. (photo: Daniel Region)

The Pantoloons take a bow in last year’s panto “SleepFrog” at the Ghent Playhouse. (photo: Daniel Region)

Opening Friday (November 28) and running through Sunday, December 14, the Ghent Playhouse will present the PantoLoons’ fifteenth production. This year, the madcap troupe will present “Ali Baba and the Four Tea Thieves,” a new, heretofore untold, version of the Two Thousand and One Nights story of Ali Baba. The number of PantoLoons in the company necessitated this adaptation, thus Four Tea Thieves instead of Forty. Thus tea becomes the prize commodity instead of oil, leaving plenty of room for commentary on today’s mores.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Noël Coward’s “Fallen Angels” Opens 40th Ghent Playhouse Season Friday [Berkshire on Stage]

October 9th, 2014, 2:00 pm by Sara
Mark Fingar as Willy Banbury tries to discern what Cathy Lee-Vosscher as Julia Sterroll and Christina Reeves as his wife, Jane are talking to in the Ghent Playhouse production of “Fallen Angels”.  (photo: Daniel Region)

Mark Fingar as Willy Banbury tries to discern what Cathy Lee-Vosscher as Julia Sterroll and Christina Reeves as his wife, Jane are talking to in the Ghent Playhouse production of “Fallen Angels.” (photo: Daniel Region)

For the first production of their 40th season, the Ghent Playhouse presents the very funny Noël Coward comedy Fallen Angels. Directed by Kate Gulliver, this is the 1955 version of Coward’s comedy.

This is the third Noël Coward comedy that Kate Gulliver has directed for the Playhouse. Previously she directed Private Lives and Hay Fever. Gulliver describes the play as “Set in the heady freedom of the 1920s, Fallen Angels is a frothy tale of two London ladies whose pre-marital indiscretions with a French lover come back to complicate their now happily-married lives. The cast of characters is led by a hilariously superior maid who knows everything about everything, and betters her betters at everything from playing the piano to speaking French.” Add a few martinis and several bottles of fine champagne, and this dryly witty 1920s romp comes very close to slapstick.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Gritty Play “Grapes of Wrath” Set for Ghent Playhouse [Berkshire on Stage]

May 20th, 2014, 1:00 pm by Sara
Kevin Barhydt as Tom Joad and Tom Detwiler as Reverend Jim Casey in the Ghent Playhouse’s production of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” (photo: Daniel Region)

Kevin Barhydt as Tom Joad and Tom Detwiler as Reverend Jim Casey in the Ghent Playhouse’s production of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” (photo: Daniel Region)

It’s the classic saga of displaced heartland Americans during the Dust Bowl Depression and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is about to get a realistic and timely production at the Ghent Playhouse in New York. Performances dates are May 23-25, May 30-June 1 and June 6-8. The novel was adapted for the stage by Frank Galati and the Steppenwolff Theater Company. For those who know the Steppenwolf company, that means it is not simply on-stage emoting that will be going on, but fingernail dirty, authentic storytelling from the heart of America. Joe Phillips is directing the gritty production.

Renowned first as a novel, and then as a prize-winning motion picture, the story of the Joad family and their flight from the dust bowl of Oklahoma is familiar to most. Desperately proud but reduced to poverty by the loss of their farm, the Joads pile their few possessions on a battered old truck and head west for California, hoping to find work and a better life.

John Steinbeck (1902–1968) was a distinctly American writer who penned 27 books, and The Grapes of Wrath (1939) won a Pulitzer. 2014 is the 75th anniversary of its publication. He is also fondly remembered for East of Eden (1952) and the novella Of Mice and Men (1937). Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Frank & Fiona, Bob & Terry, Plus William & Mary in Ayckbourn’s “How the Other Half Loves” in Ghent [Berkshire on Stage]

March 17th, 2014, 1:00 pm by Sara
Christina Smith, Sam Reilly and Todd Hamilton as Teresa, William and Bob in “How the Other Half Loves” at The Ghent Playhouse. Photo Daniel Region

Christina Smith, Sam Reilly and Todd Hamilton as Teresa, William and Bob in “How the Other Half Loves” at The Ghent Playhouse. Photo Daniel Region

The Ghent Playhouse will present Alan Ayckbourn’s wickedly funny play, “How The Other Half Loves” opening on Friday (March 21) and playing through April 6. The production’s director is Sky Vogel, who directed the Playhouse’s smash hit musical “Urinetown” in 2012.

Ayckbourn’s play deals with the interlocking lives of three couples: Frank is an upper-level manager in a nondescript business office. He is married to Fiona. The two of them are comfortable in life, though Fiona is a bit bored. Frank, it should be added, is a bit dim. Bob and Terry are a young couple with an infant child. Bob works for Frank. Terry spends her days writing letters to newspaper editors trying, without much success, to right one or more of society’s wrongs. She could be a better mother. Bob is sleeping with Fiona. Bob could be a better husband.

In an attempt to provide cover for a late night rendezvous, Bob tells Terry he has been out offering counsel to a co-worker, William, supposedly distraught because his wife, Mary, has been having an affair. This seems a little more than odd considering Mary is mousy, plain and meek. William, himself no prince of partying, may also be up to sexual shenanigans. At least so suspects Frank, who, as mentioned, is not the sharpest cheddar in the pantry.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

LIVE: “Urinetown” @ The Ghent Playhouse [GailSez]

January 23rd, 2012, 11:00 am by Sara
Mark "Monk" Schane-Lydon as Officer Lockstock and Eleah Jayne Peal as Little Sally in the Ghent Playhouse production of "Urinetown." (Photo: Daniel Region)

Mark "Monk" Schane-Lydon as Officer Lockstock and Eleah Jayne Peal as Little Sally in the Ghent Playhouse production of "Urinetown." (Photo: Daniel Region)

What a great production of a truly great musical! The Ghent Playhouse stage is truly awash with talent as this energetic cast – which skillfully and seamlessly blends a bunch of eager and talented youngsters with the usual middle-aged crowd that keep the Playhouse going – under Sky Vogel’s expert direction prove what a genuine classic Urinetown has become in a mere ten years.

I first saw and reviewed the show at The Theater Barn in 2006. At that time it was clear to me that the show was all about oil and our unsustainable dependence on fossil fuel. This time I got a completely different message and the show seems even more timely and relevant than it had previously. The ability of material to stand the test of time and continue to speak to and move audiences is the hallmark of great theatre.

Actually, Urinetown was written at a fascinating juncture in American culture. First devised in 1999, it was all set to open on Broadway on September 13, 2001. Talk about BAD timing!! That the official opening night occurred only a week later with only one line of dialogue changed to suit the new American reality was astonishing. So it’s a pre-9/11 show that only entered the larger cultural consciousness post-9/11. (Urinetown did have a successful off-Broadway run pre-9/11, but a show is not considered “set” until its official Broadway opening, after which union rules actually prevent the creative team from making any changes.) The audience for whom it was written had ceased to exist by opening night and whatever messages Mark Hollmann (music and lyrics) and Greg Kotis (lyrics and book) had intended to convey were immediately morphed by the changing world into which the show was launched.

Read the rest at GailSez.

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