When local theater fans are looking for live, on stage and in person entertainment this weekend, there are a handful of wonderful options to choose from.
For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic closed in March 2020, the region’s theater community appears to be in full swing Friday night. Three different productions start this weekend, another Wednesday, and included in these shows at Curtain Call, Schenectady Light Opera Company, Troy Foundry and Home Made Theater will be among the Capital Region’s most recognizable artists.
Former Shaker High teacher Phil Rice will take a break from his directorial duties at the Theater Barn in New Lebanon to play George Burns in “Say Goodnight Gracie” at the Curtain Call Theater in Latham, while the former New York State Theater Institute regulars David Girard and Shannon Rafferty will be on display at the world premiere of Girard’s “Where’s There Smoke: Ilium Burns” at the Troy Foundry Theater.
Meanwhile, at the Schenectady Light Opera Company, fan favorite Christine Meglino is leading the cast in an “Ordinary Days” production, and at Saratoga Springs, Toni Anderson-Sommo, another familiar face in the limelight, stars in the Home Made Theater production of “Almost Maine.” “
At Curtain Call, Rice, typically one of the Capital Region’s top directors, will take inspiration from co-directors Carol Max and Steve Fletcher in Rupert Holmes’ 2002 play on “Life, Love, and the laughter from George Burns and Gracie Allen. ”The show opens Thursday and runs through October 17th.
It was the third longest-running solo show in Broadway history starring Frank Gorshin before his death in 2005. When Rice got a phone call from Max asking if he was interested in getting back on stage, he s ‘is found to say yes. .
“Carol chose the show, asked me if I could do it, and when I read the script I absolutely loved it,” said Rice, who just finished directing “Good People” at Theater Barn. “I was like, ‘well, that’s gonna be a challenge,’ but I got the script early and with my wife’s help all summer I think we did. It’s nice to know that I haven’t quite aged yet.
The show consists of Burns talking about his long life in the entertainment business and includes the recorded voice of Allen, his wife and comedy partner for much of his career.
“I’ve always loved George Burns, and I’m old enough to remember him on TV, but not on the radio,” Rice said with a laugh. “The show is a little different in that you, what we call in the theater world, break the fourth wall and talk to the audience. There are also voice recordings of his wife, slides and video clips from his TV show and movies.
Rice said he didn’t try to impersonate Burns the same way Gorshin did.
“I usually have a beard, shaved it off and found a pair of George Burns glasses, but other than that I’m really trying to channel it,” Rice said. “Gorshin was an impressionist. I’ll try to sound like him, vocally, a Lower East Side New York accent, but it’s more about getting into his head and channeling his sense of humor.
Rice has played a few small roles over the past decade, but most of the time he’s sitting in the director’s chair. Playing Burns, he said, is his first “big effort” since receiving rave reviews as Willy Lowman in a 2010 production of “Death of a Salesman,” also on Curtain Call.
“It was the last really big part I did,” he said, “and it’s the first one-man show I’ve ever done. It’s quite different. It mixes up comedy. and pathetic. I’ve done comedy before, done Shakesepeare and a lot of serious drama, but nothing like that. It’s something very different for me.
Another former high school teacher, Anderson-Sommo, will be in action Friday night when the Home Made Theater opens its indoor season at a different venue, Saratoga Arts in downtown Saratoga Springs.
John Ciriani’s 2004 play consists of nine short stories exploring love and loss in the mythical little town of Almost, Maine. Retired from the Hudson Falls School District, Anderson-Sommo now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing at SUNY-Adirondack in Queensbury. In “Almost, Maine”, she plays Glory, a character who is heartbroken when she loses her husband to another woman.
“It allows me to be a bit New Age and hippie,” said Anderson-Sommo, who has played a variety of roles at the Home Made Theater, including Claire in “Rumors,” Kate Jerome in “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and Lorraine Sheldon in. “The man who came to dinner”.
The “Almost, Maine” series will feature seven performances over two weekends in Saratoga, including two on Saturday October 2nd. Michael McDermott directs the show, which also features Michael Mensching and Joelle Malinowski.
In downtown Schenectady, the Schenectady Light Opera Company will produce a production of Adam Gwon’s musical overture on Friday and will run until October 3.
First produced in 2012, “Ordinary Days” is set in New York City and shows how the lives of four characters are amazingly linked. Meglino, a SLOC veteran who starred in “42nd St.”, “Sister Act” and “How to be successful in business without really trying”, leads the cast which also includes Nik Gatz, Dashira Cortes, Michael Camelo, Regan Zlotnick and Ryan Fuchs. Marc Christopher is the director.
Girard’s new play, “Where There’s Smoke: Ilium Burns”, will open next Wednesday at 8:30 pm at the Trojan Hotel in Troy. The story uses the unique story of Troy as a narrative backdrop and includes actual events from the city’s past, including the great fire of 1862.
Rafferty, a graduate of Averill Park and Russell Sage, has performed several times with the New York State Theater Institute, including Annie Sullivan in the group’s production of “Miracle Worker,” and has also played Sally Bowles in a Park Playhouse production. of “Cabaret”.
She will be accompanied on stage by Raya Malcolm, alumnus of Schenectady High, and Angelique Powell, graduate of Shaker High.
The show will have preview performances on September 29 and 30, open on October 1 and run until October 16.
‘Say goodnight Gracie’
Curtain call theater
O: 1, ruelle Jeanne Jugan, Latham
WHEN: Sep 23-Oct 17
HOW MUCH: $ 28
MORE INFO: Call (518) 877-7529 or visit www.curtaincalltheater.com
Schenectady Light Opera Company
O: 427, rue Franklin, Schenectady
WHEN: Sep 24 Oct 3
HOW MUCH: $ 32 – $ 25
MORE INFO: Call (518) 730-7370 or visit www.sloctheater.org
“Where there is smoke: Ilium Burns”
Troy Foundry Thatre
O: Trojan Hotel, 41 3rd St., Troy
WHEN: Sep 29-Oct 16
HOW MUCH: $ 22 – $ 15
MORE INFO: Visit Troy Foundry Theater on Facebook
O: Saratoga Arts, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs
WHEN: Sep 24 Oct 3
HOW MUCH: $ 32.50
MORE INFORMATION: Call (518) 587-4427 or visit www.HomeMadeTheater.org
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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts