There’s something for everyone during Central New York’s upcoming theater season
By James MacKillop
It's the year of Fuddy Mears, Zana Don’t and Judy’s Scary Christmas. Yes, those are titles of stage works appearing in town over the next 10 months, but don’t feel left behind if you have not heard of them before. Let there be no complaining about the same old things; this is the time to catch up.
True, there will be a pair of Othellos in town this year, and the Nunsense franchise stays with us in two mountings, one a drag version and the other a Christmas ballet, but company after company favors the new, unfamiliar and untried. Some companies have gone silent, and new ones emerge. Defying the economy, there are 10 more shows slated than last year.
Top of the Heap
After his boffo third season, with every show a hit, artistic director Timothy Bond at Syracuse Stage (820 E. Genesee St.; 443-3275) seeks to take audiences to new places in his fourth year. In part that means more works with critical esteem rather than strong box office appeal. It also means a different venue. Two productions will be around the corner in the 260-seat Storch Theatre, so named because that is where founding artistic director Arthur Storch moved the brandnew Syracuse Stage from 1974 to 1980, rather than use the old movie house, The Regent, before it was remodeled into the Archbold.
In years past the opening production started the season with a bang, whereas the final show was a crowd-pleaser encouraging subscribers to take out their pens.
The season opener at the Storch Theatre will be Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of Henry James’ mystery novella The Turn of the Screw (Wednesday, Sept. 21-Sunday, Sept. 25, Wednesday, Sept. 28-30, Oct. 1, 2, Oct. 4-9, 12-16). This stripped-down version—not to be confused with The Innocents, staged and filmed many times—features two players, a female as the governess and a male as all the others.
Closing the season at the Storch will be Tarell Alvin McCreaney’s The Brothers Size (April 18-22, 25-29, May 1-6, 9-12), to be directed by Bond. It is one of the most honored American stage works of the past three years, being cited in both New York City and London. Although McCreaney, still only 31, began as an assistant to August Wilson, his is a distinctively different black voice, drawing on reserves of dance, poetry, music and Yoruba mythology. The brothers of the title come to blows in the Louisiana bayou. Hardworking Ogun must contend with aimless Oshoosi, just released from prison. An old prison mate, Elegba, proves to be an enticing tempter.
The first of the four productions slated for the 499-seat Archbold Theatre is unashamed comfort food, Tom Griffin’s touching comedy The Boys Next Door (Oct. 19-23, 25-30, Nov. 1-6). Developmentally disabled men in a group home struggle to make sense of their lives with a reluctant leader, worn down by bearing their burdens. Timothy Bond directs.
Although the holiday show has been traditionally secular, C.S. Lewis’ enormously popular The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (Nov. 25-27, 30, Dec. 1-4, 7-11, 15-18, 20-23, 26-31) contains a subtle Christian allegory. This adaptation by Adrian Mitchell, with music by Shaun Davey, premiered in London in 1998 and has been revived annually in Britain ever since. Music director Dianne Adams McDowell and stage director Linda Hartzell are in charge of this co-production with the Syracuse University Drama Department.
A second musical of a different type, Caroline, or Change (Feb. 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, 21-26) focuses on a black servant in a Louisiana Jewish household during the civil rights era of 1963. The musical score by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie) mixes blues, gospel and traditional Jewish melodies, with book and lyrics by Tony Kushner (Angels in America). The most intellectually ambitious offering of the season will be John Logan’s Red (March 7-11, 14-18, 20-25), a two-character dramatization of the personal and artistic struggles of abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko as he works to complete one of his most important commissions.
The move to new space last year was a resounding asset for Ithaca’s Kitchen Theatre Company (417 W. State St., (607) 272-0403), upstate’s most innovative dramatic troupe. Still intimate enough to let audiences see the sweat on an actor’s brow, the new Kitchen is big enough to allow a performer to pirouette or somersault without running into a wall. Good thing, too, as one of this season’s shows is an original work about the public and private lives of dancers.
New and unfamiliar works are the usual thing at the Kitchen, including two new productions by artistic director Rachel Lampert. She has written and co-cho reographed, with Lindsay Gilmour, In The Company of Dancers (Sept. 28-30, Oct. 1, 2, 5-9), and will bring on stage violinist Linda Chase of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra. Charlayne Woodard’s one-woman drama Neat (Oct. 19-Nov. 6) is a powerful portrait of family and friends, touching on entrenched prejudice in the South and racial violence in the North. Just before the holidays comes the absurdist spoof, The Mystery of Irma Vep (Nov. 30-Dec. 18) by Charles Ludlam. Arguably the only Kitchen offering known to most theatergoers, Vep offers vampires, werewolves and an Egyptian princess.
In Rob Ackerman’s comedy Call Me Waldo (Jan. 18-Feb. 5), an ordinary working guy finds that the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson spill uncontrollably from his mouth, speaking of love and transcendent understanding. Dangerous sexual politics drive Adam Rapp’s Red Light Winter (Feb. 22-March 11), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2006. After sharing sex, a man and a mysterious woman learn about the perils of unrequited love. Matthew Lopez’s The Whipping Man (April 4-22) deals with two emancipated slaves and their master at the end of the Civil War. Exposing secrets reveals to the trio that they share an identity they had not known before.
Lampert’s second premiere features music by frequent collaborator Larry Pressgrove for the appropriately titled Waiting for Spring (May 30-June 17). During a severe winter, a widow and widower meet after a New York City New Year’s Eve, bringing hope for renewal. Finally, the Kitchen promises a new comedy for the July 11-29 slot.
The much-lamented passing of company founder Murray Bernthal, just short of 100 years old, does not signal any downtime for Famous Artists/NAC Entertainment (offices at 241 W. Fayette St., 424-8210). This was a man who always proclaimed that the Show Must Go On. And, sure enough, there could not be a single person in Central New York who does not know that Famous Artists is running Julie Taymor’s blockbuster The Lion King (Wed. Sept. 21-Sunday, Sept, 25, Tuesday, Sept. 27-Oct. 2) at the Mulroy Civic Center’s Crouse-Hinds Concert Theater, 411 Montgomery St.
The other four shows mix two golden oldies with two hits from the past five
years. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Latin-flavored In the Heights (Nov. 8-10) follows three generations of a Hispanic family in Washington Heights, Manhattan. The New York Times’ Charles Isherwood called it “light and sweet.” Now on the scene for 25 years, Shoenberg and Boublil’s Les Miserables (Feb. 21-26) feels like a familiar but still imposing monument—not to mention giving Susan Boyle her ticket to stardom. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific (March 20-22) was already among the most gleaming of all golden age musicals, but it gained new luster and vitality after its SRO revival on Broadway three years ago. Lastly, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein (May 15-17) is a musicalization of what many consider his finest film spoof, a sequel of sorts to The Producers.
For opera buffs, it’s never a question of familiarity at Syracuse Opera (476-7372). True, every ticket holder will know all the music going in. The reward is in hearing made new, such as an audacious mix of voices in the second-act quartet. Clearly, the local company continues to hold audiences and win friends while its classical sibling at the Crouse-Hinds Concert Theater, the late Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, did not.
The season opener, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata (Oct. 21, 23), tells the story of courtesan Violetta, from Alexandre Dumas fils’ Camille. Acclaimed tenor Nathaniel Peake appears as the lover Alfredo. The most talked-about production of the year will be a fully staged version of Carol Orff’s Carmina Burana (Feb. 10, 12), with sensuous texts in Latin and Middle High German. Concluding the season is the most popular of all Italian operas, Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (April 20, 22), Cio-Cio San’s doomed quest for happiness.
Call it truth in advertising. When creative director Dan Tursi calls his company Rarely Done Productions (performances at Jazz Central, 441 E. Washington St., 546-3224), he delivers. Other companies may go Broadway or off-Broadway, but Rarely Done seeks out the fringe. Opening to sellout crowds, Dennis T. Giacino’s Disenchanted: Bitches of the Kingdom (Sept. 30, Oct. 1, 7, 8) is a riotous musical review about storybook princesses kvetching about how they have been exploited in Disney movies. Jessica Bland and Erik Jensen’s The Exonerated (Oct. 21, 22, 27, 28) interweaves the stories of six wrongfully convicted survivors of death row in their own words. Taken from interviews, transcripts, letters and the public record, Linda Lance directs this 2003 winner of the Drama Desk and Outer Critics’ Circle Awards. And in a unique celebration of the holidays, Rarely Done brings us Judy’s Scary Little Christmas (Dec. 2, 3, 8-10) by James Webber and David Church. For her 1959 Christmas Eve TV special Judy hoped to have as guests Bing Crosby, Ethel Merman and Liberace but through mysterious snafus she gets Richard Nixon, Lillian Hellman and Joan Crawford instead. Tursi directs, with Josh Smith handling the music by Joe Patrick Ward.
Nicky Silver’s Beautiful Child (March 2, 3, 8-10, 15-17) presents a squabbling middle-aged couple whose son wants to move back home. Trouble is, his love interests trample on huge taboos, more than they can bear. To come back home he will have to pay a heavy price. My First Time (April 13, 14, 19-21, 26-28) draws on the more than 40,000 testimonials of a first sexual experience as contributed to a website beginning in 1998. Four actors take on all the voices and all the experiences. The final production of the year, by convention, must be the wildest. This year it’s Alaina Kunin’s Bunked (June 1, 2, 7-9, 14-16), a comic musical about coming of age for five camp counselors, three male and two female. Themes run to growing up, first loves and exploring sexual orientation.
If Appleseed Productions (at the Atonement Lutheran Church, 116 W. Glen Ave.; 492-9766) were a movie studio it would be United Artists. It is the only company not dominated by a single personality, although Mark Allen Holt has now been named artistic director. Variety comes from competing directors who make their case to a board, which favors classics this year. Dan Tursi, not sufficiently busy with his own Rarely Done Productions, will direct Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (Oct. 21-23, 28-30, Nov. 4, 5). The Salem witch trials of the 1690s invite comparison with the anti-red hysteria of the 1950s. For the holidays Appleseed revives its popular hit from seasons past, The Old Time Christmas Radio Hour (Dec. 9-11, 16-18).
Company virtuoso Alan Stillman will direct the one new title, Tristine Skyler’s The Moonlight Room (March 9-11, 16-18, 23, 24). Critically acclaimed at its 2003 off-Broadway opening, Moonlight presents teenagers in a hospital waiting room wanting to know what’s happening to a friend who overdosed. Only about 10 American dramas of the last century are truly inexhaustible, and near the top of that list is Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie (May 4-6, 11-13, 18, 19), directed by Linda Lance. Laura’s gentleman caller leaves early. Director Mark Allen Holt completes the season with Tom Lehrer’s satirical review, Tomfoolery (June 15-17, 22-24, 29, 30). Although the show is more than 50 years ago, a few judicious cuts and Lehrer’s wit, not unlike W.S. Gilbert, will still seem timely.
Two years after the death of company founder Joseph L. Lotito, widow Pat Lotito has a new pacemaker and is raring to go with Salt City Center for the Performing Arts (446-6798). She is working closely with longtime pal Bob Brown, who is now managing artistic director. Brown will revive his favorite role as the title character in the Joe Darion-Mitch Leigh musical Man of La Mancha (Oct. 14-29) at the New Times Theater on the New York State Fairgrounds. Also featured are Cathleen O’Brien as Aldonza, Bill Ali as Sancho Panza and Richard Koons as the Padre.
Most productions at Not Another Theater Company (446-1461) surprised skeptics with the variety and vitality of artistic director Dustin Czarny’s full calendar in 2011. The shows appear at the Locker Room’s banquet facilities, 528 Hiawatha Blvd., with a higher expense account for the May musical at the New York State Fairgrounds’ New Times Theatre. At press time only two titles are certain. The first is Katie Lemos Brown’s direction of Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men (Friday, Sept. 23- Sunday, Sept. 25, Sept. 29, 30, Oct. 1). It exposes dissonances in the Marine code of honor and stark questions about just who can stand to hear the truth. And Greg Hipius and Gerritt Vander Werff Jr. play 20-plus characters, many of them violent rednecks, in A Tuna Christmas (Nov. 11-13, 18, 19). It’s set at station OKKK in the third smallest town in Texas.
The husband-and-wife team of Steve and Marguerite Beebe launched their Encore Presentations (reservations, 469- 6969) with three well-directed shows last year upstairs at Jamesville’s Glen Loch restaurant, long one of the area’s favored dinner theater venues. This year Encore offers a full calendar of seven openings, fully five of which are area premieres.
Already on the boards is The Queen of Bingo (Friday, Sept. 23, and Saturday, Sept. 24), a darkish but loving comedy about those fanatic gamblers who wait for the numbers to come up in church basements. Next comes The Bad Seed (Oct. 14-19), the last stage work by mid-century American titan Maxwell Anderson, who paints the immortal portrait of a really bad kid, whether due to nature or nurture. The title of Tim Atico and Alexander Dinelaris’ Zana Don’t: A Musical Fairytale (Nov. 4-19) makes wordplay on Xanadu while the subtitle is a nudge-nudge heavy-handed pun. Action takes in a fantasy small town where heterophobia reigns. Gays have gained power, and the straights find themselves in the minority. For the holidays Encore brings us one of the few unseen chapters of the Nunsense franchise, Dan Goggin’s Nuncrackers (Dec. 2-17), in which Sister Mary Leo gets to dance numbers stolen from Tchaikovsky’s ballet.
The new year brings Bettine Manktekow’s Curtain Up Murder (February), an ambitious Pirandellian comedy in which reality, not to mention a murder mystery, is reshaped before your eyes. The Beebes have been talking about this show since before Encore was founded. Stephen Schwartz’s Godspell (March 16-31), with the deathless “Day by Day,” follows.
The last production, however, is likely to cause more comment than any in the season. Shout! The Mod Musical (April 13- 21), spoofing the era of Carnaby Street and white go-go boots, was a hit in London but made it only to off-Broadway on this side. More remarkable is the writing team of Philip George, David Lowenstein and Peter Charles Morris. Lowenstein cut his musical teeth in Syracuse community theater and then went on to major in the Syracuse University Drama Department before making a name in the big time. He has recently returned to the area, directs shows at Cazenovia College and is currently a part-time instructor at his alma mater. It’s curious that no one has thought to bring us this one before now.
Garrett Heater’s Covey Theatre Company (420-3729) made a splashy entrance with his well-produced original drama, Lizzie Borden Took an Axe last November. With its high standards and use of the Mulroy Civic Center’s BeVard Studio, Covey appears to be the heir of John Nara’s much-admired but now defunct Simply New Company, with which Heater was often associated. Covey has plans for a musical and two dramas, with one of those dramas being The Romanovs (Oct. 14, 15, 21, 22), a Russian rhapsody about dynastic intrigue.
Two young community theater veterans, actor-director Shawn Foster and musician Josh Smith, have teamed to launch Syracuse’s newest venture: Twist Cabaret Theatre (569-2322), so named for its venue, Twist Ultra Lounge, 252 W. Genesee St. Given the backgrounds of the two founders, we can expect musicals, comedies and musical comedies. The first production, Broadway Rocks (Saturday, Sept. 24, Sunday, Sept. 25, 30, Oct. 1, 8, 9), pulls selections from recent Broadway hits like Wicked, Hairspray, Book of Mormon, Mamma Mia, The Lion King, Rent and more. Forster and Smith created the show and appear with familiar names like Jennifer Pearson, Tamaralee Shutt and Dana Sovocool. Dan Goggin’s Nunsense A-Men! (Oct.
15, 16, 22, 23, 28-30) nearly follows the original script except to allow for the casting of men as the Little Sisters of Hoboken. Only women appear in the third show, also created by Forster and Smith, Syracuse Theater Divas Live (Nov. 5, 6, 11- 13), with Broadway favorites warbled by Susan Basile, Becky Bottrill, Tamar Juntia, Aubry Ludington Panek, Tamaralee Shutt and Colleen Wager. And dead men wear plaid in the guy-group spoof Forever Plaid (Nov. 19, 20, 25-27).
Young at Heeart
Unlike other theaters, the collegiate companies don’t have to keep their eyes on the bottom line but rather seek to give drama students some of the widest and most demanding experience. All the productions this year at Syracuse University Drama Department (820 E. Genesee St.; 443-3275) arrive with the patina of critical acclaim and the fact that they were box office performers at one time, but now we’re fortunate just to get a chance to see them.
In Marc Blitzstein’s 1937 labor musical The Cradle Will Rock (Sept. 30, Oct. 1, 2, 6-8), Rodney Hudson directs a mash-up of comic strip, agitprop, Bertolt Brecht, vaudeville and Gilbert & Sullivan. A certain wildness also marks the comedy Fuddy Meers (Nov. 4-6, 9-12), by David Lindsay-Abaire, better-known for the somber Rabbit Hole, a Pulitzer Prize-winner.
A woman named Claire wakes up with amnesia one morning, and then is kidnapped by a limping, lisping man with an accomplice whose best friend is a hand puppet. Craig MacDonald directs the promised hilarious antics and heartbreaking poignancy. For the holidays SU Drama Department joins forces once again with Syracuse Stage for the aforementioned The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Director Gerardine Clark, well-known for her facility with the weightiest of dramas, revives the much-imitated masterpiece of Russian realism, Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths (Feb. 24-26, 29, March 1-4). Constantine Stanislavsky himself directed the 1902 premiere, set in a squalid boarding house for outcasts and derelicts. Both Jean Renoir and Akira Kurasawa filmed the drama but reset it in other lands; this production takes us back to Gorky’s roots. The pace and mood brighten when Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek’s Quilters (March 30, 31, April 1, 4-7) takes us to the American frontier. Guest director Patdro Harris helms this haunting musical with an all-female cast portraying the lives of women facing hardships in the prairie states. Quilters was last seen in a 1985 SU Drama production. Department chair Ralph Zito directs the spring finale, Shakespeare’s As You Like It (April 27-29, May 3-5, 11, 12), the Bard’s most popular comedy. Rosalind, in a trousers role, relishes speaking with a man’s authority informed by a woman’s heart.
The state-of-the-art technology at the W. Carroll Coyne Performing Arts Center allows Le Moyne College’s Boot and Buskin Drama Club (1419 Salt Springs Road, 445-4523) to reshape the stage for different productions, creating in effect a new space each time. The four shows this year (up from three) reflect the edgy sensibilities of new assistant professor Matt Chiorini and the trenchant moral energy of longtime department head Bill Morris. Chiorini directs Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros (Oct. 20-22, 27-29), a masterwork of mid-century absurdism. Villagers find themselves lock-stepped in conformity in the face of terror. For the one-night fundraiser, Chiorini will direct himself in David Sedaris’s The Santaland Dairies (Dec. 17), on the nightmare life of a Macy’s elf.
Melanie Marnich’s These Shining Lives (Feb. 16-18, 23-25), deals with the tragic camaraderie among women workers at the Radium Dial Company in the 1920s. Bill Morris directs this gripping drama of victimized innocence. Chiorini’s direction of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days (April 12-14, 19-21) concludes the season. Five actors portray 39 characters in Phileas Fogg’s breakneck quest to win a bet with the gentlemen at his club.
Vive Le Difference
Entering its 26th year, now under the direction of actress-playwright Donna Stuccio, Armory Square Players continues with script-in-hand productions of new plays, mostly by local authors, on the third Sunday of the month at 1 p.m. at Jazz Central, 441 E. Washington St.. Beloved theater teacher Len Fonte enters with Malagrana (Oct. 17), dealing with an American archaeological student, Margie Cameron, overwhelmed by the passions unleashed by leaving home to work on a Sicilian dig. It was inspired by a recent murder case that riveted the world. The experiences of students at Indian River High School, near Fort Drum, contribute to Craig Thompson’s In My Shoes (Nov. 21), which concerns the military parents of some students that have been deployed to war zones. The Dec. 19 session is the third annual fundraiser for the Friends of Dorothy, a local hospice serving HIV/AIDS victims.
Open Hand Theatre (476-0466) operates out of the storybook Victorian mansion known as the International Mask and Puppet Museum, 518 Prospect Ave., just off North Salina Street. The performance calendar lists 16 different shows, mainly for children, on Saturdays at 11 a.m., many from out-of-town companies. Among those is a company favorite, Grandfather Frost’s Stories of Russia (Dec. 10), as well as Regina Carpenter’s A River Rat on the St. Lawrence River (Jan. 14) and Open Hand’s own Einstein’s Amazin’ Equation (Feb. 11).
After months of construction and the expansion of the arts community at West and Fayette streets, The Redhouse (201 S. West St., 425-0405), presents its fullest calendar in recent years with nine productions, many aimed at different niche markets, including young people. Tanya O’Debra’s one-woman show Radio Star (Oct. 6-8) employs 10 different voices in spoofing 1940s-era radio murder mysteries; it was a hit at the Edinburgh Festival.
In time for Halloween is the only show ever based on a tabloid horror story, Bat Boy: The Musical (Oct. 27-29, Nov. 2-5). Laurence O’Keefe’s music with Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming’s book and lyrics bring slapstick and campy irony to the story of the half bat/boy creature found in a West Virginia cave. Then it’s movin’ on down the road for the holidays with William F. Brown and Charlie Smalls’ The Wiz (Dec. 1-3, 7-10), the much-loved black urban retelling of The Wizard of Oz.
In Terrence McNally’s comedy of hope and Hinduism, The Perfect Ganesh (Jan. 12- 14, 18-21), two suburban matrons discover the unexpected on a trip to India. Bree Benton’s I am Going to Run Away (March 1-3, for teen and adult audiences), a tragicomic narrative of an archetypal waif with obscure vaudeville and parlor songs, was much praised by rocker Lou Reed and absurdist Charles Busch. The Redhouse’s own Stephen Svoboda directs a revival of Twelfth Night (March 29-31, April 4-7), following the romantic adventures of crossdressing Viola and her twin Sebastian, along with the humiliation of Malvolio, an Elizabethan red-stater. In Retrospect by LOCO7 Dance Puppet Theatre (April 20 and21, for children under 18) investigates how we construct our personal memory box. Closing the season is a hysterical dark comedy, Vigil (May 3-5, 9-12) by Canadian playwright Morris Panych, whose works are popular at Niagara’s Shaw Festival. An embittered, self-involved bachelor arrives to care for the dying aunt he has not seen since childhood.
Life’s a Niche
Now in its 52nd year, Jack and Doris Skillman’s venerable Onondaga Hillplayers (468-5472; 492-1221) still offers the best buy for comedy and dinner. This year brings another fast-paced farce from the New Jersey team of William Van Zandt and Jane Millmore, Love, Sex and the I.R.S. (Oct. 28-30, Nov. 4-6), in which beating the Feds calls for a Charley’s Aunt impersonation. The company performs at the Links at Sunset Ridge on Route 175 in Marcellus.
Now in its 69th year, and the oldest continuing theater of any kind in the area, Baldwinsville Theatre Guild (at the Presbyterian Education Center, 64 Oswego St., Baldwinsville) announces two productions at press time, both ambitious. Shakespeare’s tragedy of jealousy and interracial love, Othello (Oct. 21, 22, 29, 30) will be directed by Stephanie Lon and Kim Jakway. Next March the guild will present the area premiere of Barry Manilow’s lost musical adaptation (from 1970) of W.H.S. Smith’s deathless 1844 melodrama The Drunkard, or Reefer Madness before we had reefers.
Ronald Bell has been the moving force for nine seasons at Syracuse Shakespeare Festival (443-8781, 476-1835; www.syracuseshakespearefestival.org), best known for its free Shakespeare works in Thornden Park during the summer. All indoor productions are slated for after the beginning of the new year. Vern Thiessen’s The Resurrection of John Frum (Jan. 6-7) is a taut drama that calls for its two actors to switch roles for each performance. Moving to the New Times Theatre at the State Fairgrounds, the company will produce the second local Othello (Feb. 10-25) of the season, starring community theater veteran Tony Brown. Company executive director Bell has put together Love vs. Time (April 13-22), dramatizing Shakespeare’s sonnets with dance, music, photography and video. Concluding the season in Thornden Park will be two productions, Henry IV, Part I (June 13-22) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (August).
Now in its 29th year, the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company (firstname.lastname@example.org) remains committed to bringing highquality performances from the African- American tradition. Spokeswoman Annette Adams-Brown and Bertha Adams will share stories of themselves in The Feminine Side of Fayetteville (Oct. 14, 15, 21, 22) during the Onondaga Historical Association-sponsored Fayetteville Ghost Walk.
The ACME Mystery Theater (at Spaghetti Warehouse, 689 N. Clinton St.; reservations: 475-1807; company business:
622-2665) currently offers the interactive comedy-mystery Fiddler on the Loose (Thursdays, Sept. 22, 29, Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27, Nov. 3, 10), which portrays the adventures of the milkman, Skeevya and his family, who have been forced to immigrate from their beloved village of Havavodka to the bright lights of New York City. By working for the Russian mafia, Skeevya has become a rich man. The Pirates of Yuletide (dates to be announced) will follow for the holidays, and a new show, Oklahomacide is in preparation. All productions are original and locally written.
Also at the Spaghetti Warehouse, but on Saturdays at 12:30 p.m., is Magic Circle Children’s Theatre (449-3823), now in its 15th year. Interactive retellings of classic fairy tales invite participation from youthful audiences for only $5, one of the best bargains in Central New York theater. Featured this fall is Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea (Saturdays, Sept. 24, Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29). Audience members must help test to see if the princess is true royalty.
Several troupes will either not be around this season or are on holding patterns. Surprisingly, Christine Lightcap’s The Talent Company (479-SHOW) had no reserved dates or prospective titles to announce at press time, while the Wit’s End Players (345-8001), David Witanowski’s much-lauded company, remains on hiatus for 2011-2012 but contemplates a possible return to the boards. For the younger demographic, Walt Shepperd’s teen-driven The Media Unit (327 Montgomery St.) had no announcements while the future of Gifford Family Theatre (1419 Salt Springs Road, 445-4320) is cloudy following company founder and driving force Steve Braddock’s departure to become chairman of the drama department at Niagara University.
Regarding the new Central New York Shakespeare Incorporated (569-5488;
box office, 877-1725, www.cnyshakes. com), a pay-what-you-can company
whose moving force is young community theater veteran and Le Moyne
College graduate Terry LaCasse, announcements are expected in October
after the company secures a venue closer to Syracuse. The company’s
debut production of Le Moyne faculty member Matt Chiorini’s strippeddown
adaptation, Henry V x 7, appeared with little fanfare at Cazenovia’s
Catherine Cummings Theatre during August.