All articles by James MacKillop

Rachel Lampert: The Way She Was

Autobiographical pearls for the stage

“All art is autobiographical,” said movie director Federico Fellini. “The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.” Rachel Lampert, artistic director of Ithaca’s Kitchen Theatre Company, has been propagating autobiographical pearls for the stage for some time.



Opera Uproar in a Fun Farce: Lend Me a Tenor

Jim MacKillop reviews a 1930s-era screwball comedy

Dustin Czarny’s Central New York Playhouse, the company in a former retail space in Shoppingtown Mall, has spent much of the last two years busting out the walls. Several shows, including Spamalot, The Wild Party and The Laramie Project, had to be shoehorned onto the floorboards.



Top 2014 highlights in local theater

Stage critic James MacKillop recalls the premieres, revivals and great performances that took place on local floorboards

Top among the 2014 highlights in local theater included: For the intensity of emotion, for the intrusion of laughter through tears, there is unlikely ever to be another evening like the “What I Did for Love” tribute to Talent Company founder Christine Lightcap, held Oct. 16 at the State Fairgrounds' Empire Theater. Moe Harrington’s “She’s the Greatest Star,” Susan Basile’s “As Long as He Needs Me” and Frank Fiumano losing it in “I Am What I Am” all shook the house. Lightcap’s longtime business partner Brenda Neuss said it had not been one of her better days up until then; the ageless trouper had just 10 days to live.



Visiting Bammy Lewis Revels in Holiday Sneer

A new comedy at Central New York Playhouse

Subtitled “A silly little Christmas story,” Visiting Bammy Lewis is an unpretentious, two-hour portrayal of massive family dysfunction, now playing at Shoppingtown’s Central New York Playhouse.



Boffo Bouffants Bring Holiday Cheer

Hairspray’s musical mix of rock innocence and racial harmony at Syracuse Stage

Filmmaker and satirist John Waters, the Baltimore bad boy, might be housebroken now, but he is never to be taken for granted. From two film versions of Waters‘ Hairspray, non-singing (1988) and singing (2007), as well as several previous local productions, most audiences are onto Hairspray’s thesis of racial integration, as well as many of its delirious comic devices.



Black Power Fuels Sunset Baby’s Drama

Sunset Baby at Kitchen Theatre Company

The 1950s had higher employment, and the 1970s had brighter colors and more hair, but the 1960s is the decade that keeps calling to us.



Purple Passion in Redhouse Smash

The Color Purple at Redhouse Arts Center

Among the many things Redhouse Arts Center audiences will like about the 2005 hit musical version of The Color Purple, composed by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, is that it hews more closely to Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel than did director Steven Spielberg’s much-admired but controversial 1985 movie. This starts with the epistolary structure, in which the much put-upon Celie (Joan Anderson) is always explaining what’s happening to her sister Nettie (Briana Maia) in Africa. Their reunion is the climax of the second act.



Stepping Out’s Dance Fever

Stepping Out boasts nine roles for women and one for a man

It’s something we’re not supposed to say out loud but, even worse, should not be put in print: Most university drama departments are oversupplied with female talent.



Doubt’s Provocative Church Chat

(Review) Salt City Center for the Performing Arts presents: Doubt

John Patrick Shanley’s Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Doubt is one of those rare plays where the mystery is not supposed to be solved. That’s why people who see different productions compare notes and think they have seen different dramas entirely.



Tripping the Lightcap Fantastic

Stage critic James MacKillop recalls the legacy of the late Christine Lightcap, the pioneering impresario of local theater

In the early 1980s Christine Lightcap was singing the role of Nancy in a Landmark Theatre Wing production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver. Getting into her big number, “As Long As He Needs Me,” Lightcap leaned against the proscenium, putting her hand behind her. At that moment a brick came loose from the column in the 1928 former movie palace.