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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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.

Families, Gardens, Love in Bloom, the Mac-Hayden Returns to Its Roots with “The Fantasticks” [Berkshire on Stage]

May 23rd, 2013, 11:00 am by Sara
Showing their new-found togetherness is struck by Bellomy (Derrick Jaques), Luisa (Stephanie Granade), Matt (Andrew McMath), and Hucklebee (Gabe Bleyeu) in The Fantasticks. Even as they celebrate newfound happiness, El Gallo (Patrick Heffernan) wonders how long they will stay that way.

Showing their new-found togetherness is struck by Bellomy (Derrick Jaques), Luisa (Stephanie Granade), Matt (Andrew McMath), and Hucklebee (Gabe Bleyeu) in The Fantasticks. Even as they celebrate newfound happiness, El Gallo (Patrick Heffernan) wonders how long they will stay that way.

Everyone loves The Fantasticks, the tale of interfering fathers, a swashbuckling rogue, charm and comedy which opens May 23, 2013 and plays until June 2 at the Mac-Hayden Theatre in Chatham, New York. The Fantasticks, the world’s longest running musical, opens the 45th anniversary season at The Mac-Haydn Theatre.

“Since the show was part of our very first summer in 1969, it seemed right to put it into an anniversary season”, Artistic Director/Producer Lynne Haydn said about the perennial favorite show, adding “especially since several of our people have performed in the show Off-Broadway: Tom Flagg as the Mute, Jim Charles as the Mute, the Boy and El Gallo and Christine Long as the Girl.”

Mac-Haydn’s newest presentation of the show stars past season favorites Patrick Heffernan as El Gallo, Andrew McMath as the Boy, Gabe Belyeu and Derrick Jaques as the Fathers, and David Beditz and Monk Schane-Lydon as Henry and Mortimer. Newcomers this season, Stephanie Granade will be the Girl, and the Mutes are Lea Nardi and Scott Caron.

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Dazzling Musical “Hello Dolly” in Cohoes stars Monica M. Wemitt from 1995 B’way Revival [Berkshire on Stage]

October 30th, 2012, 2:00 pm by Sara
Monica M. Wemitt as Dolly Levi (photo: The Mac-Haydn Theatre)

Monica M. Wemitt as Dolly Levi (photo: The Mac-Haydn Theatre, Chatham, NY)

Everyone remembers Carol Channing’s last Broadway revival of Hello Dolly back in 1995. It turns out that it also happens to be the same production in which Monica M. Wemitt not only made her Broadway debut in the role of Ernestina Money but was also charged with being Carol’s standby. Both on Broadway, and then on the road with Channing, she came to know this classic Jerry Herman musical inside out. She now brings the role of Dolly Levi to life at the Cohoes Music Hall from November 1-11. She is sure to make Dolly as memorable and joyous a character on stage as you have ever met. Wemitt is an incredible talent with the sort of polish that comes from performing with (and filling in for) Dolly’s most beloved interpreter.

To quote Berkshire on Stage critic Gail Burns who travels all over to see Wemitt: “She is an actress with the gift to seem completely relaxed and spontaneous on stage. She establishes an instant rapport with her audience so that you feel every joke is a little secret between just the two of you. And she sings Jerry Herman wonderfully well.” From this review found on her site Gail Sez.

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