This year we can see Jersey Boys, a white whale on stage, musical assassins and the return of Debbie Does Dallas. Shakespeare will be the most produced playwright with two rival companies as well as stagings of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest. Then again, Neil Simon is back with five shows after seasons of neglect, Tennessee Williams will be with us twice and Peter Pan flies twice, but only sings once. We can examine brand-new works from area authors including Garrett Heater, Brian Dykstra and Rachel Lampert. There will be plenty of family-friendly events, like White Christmas and Amahl and the Night Visitors. But any season that brings us titles like The Motherf**cker with a Hat and ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore can be expected to shake things up.
Top of the Heap
Now entering his fifth season (it hardly seems possible), producing-artistic director Timothy Bond really knows his audience at Syracuse Stage (820 E. Genesee St.; 433-3275) and knows what he wants to give from his heart of hearts. That will mean another installment of the late playwright August Wilson’s “Pittsburgh Decalogue” and a Shakespeare comedy. The holidays will bring a secular musical based on a beloved film. Something new will be a recent, heartfelt drama emphasizing class differences, and the old are two adaptations of prestige texts.
Julian Rad’s recent reduction of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (Oct. 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, 30, 31, Nov. 2- 4) calls for nine performers and 16 sea shanties. The fury of the “Nantucket sleigh ride” (men in a small boat pulled by a murderous whale) comes alive on stage, along with obsession and the threat of death and destruction. Peter Amster (The 39 Steps) directs.
The 1954 Bing Crosby-Danny Kaye movie musical White Christmas (Nov. 23, 24, 27-30, Dec. 1, 2, 5-9, 13-16, 18-23, 26-30) has been gussied up recently with additional Irving Berlin songs and big dance numbers to become a holiday favorite in New York City. In this annual collaboration with the Syracuse University Drama Department, choreographer David Wanstreet will deliver a disciplined chorus of high-stepping students. Paul Barnes, who previously helmed Syracuse Stage’s The Miracle Worker (2011), directs White Christmas.
August Wilson’s Two Trains Running (Jan. 30, 31, Feb. 1-3, 6-10, 12-17), set in 1969 Pittsburgh, portrays an optimistic ex-con who awakens the denizens of Memphis Lee’s Diner to the possibilities of a new era. Tim Bond directs one of the most humorous of all Wilson dramas.
A second collaboration with SU Drama, meaning an expanded cast of young people, will follow with William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (March 6-10, 12, 15-17, 20-24, 27-31). Along with being one of the Bard’s three most popular comedies, its satirical play-within-the-play featuring Bottom and the Mechanicals spoofs acting and drama themselves. Professional director Bill Fennelly has been invited in for this co-production on the Archbold stage.
In David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People (April 24-28, May 1-5, 7-12), working-class single mom Margie from the Irish enclave of South Boston seeks out an old flame who has migrated to the stylish suburb of Chestnut Hill. Lisa Peterson, at one time much associated with Ithaca’s Hangar Theatre, along with Denis O’Hare, has adapted Homer’s Iliad (May 15-19, 22-26, 28-31, June 1, 2, 4-9), employing Robert Fagles’ translation in contemporary idiom. A single storyteller (Joseph Graves from last season’s Red) carries the entire narrative, as staged by Penny Metropulos in the more intimate Storch Theatre.
Anticipating the season, but not part of the subscription package, is Ping Chong’s Cry for Peace: Voices from the Congo (Sept. 14-16, 20-23), also at the Storch. Chong’s earlier brief visits to Syracuse produced Tales from the Salt City (2008), one of his more than 30 dramatizations of excluded populations. Cry for Peace takes a narrower focus, Congolese immigrants to Syracuse, as they talk more about their strife-torn homeland than their arrival here. The show was workshopped in Syracuse in 2010 and appeared at Washington’s Georgetown University in 2011, but will be making its official world premiere here.
Unfamiliar works are the usual thing for Ithaca’s Kitchen Theatre Company (417 W. State St.; (607) 272-0403) in its attractive new but still intimate digs. Only one of the season’s seven new shows has ever appeared on the Syracuse New Times beat before, but several of them have already attracted considerable buzz.
The season opens with the only familiar item, Terrence McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune (Wednesday, Aug. 29-Sunday, Sept. 2, 5-9, 12-16), about middle-aged loners who begin with easy sex and find a deeper relationship harder to reach. Michael Hollinger’s Opus (Oct. 17-20, 24-28, 31, Nov. 1-4, 7-11) enters the intense relationships of four male players in a string quartet, when the founder is missing and must be replaced by a . . . woman. New York City-based Brian Dykstra has become a regular in Ithaca, as a playwright and performer, and in his one-man comic rants, a writer-actor. His Selling Out (Nov. 28-30, Dec. 1, 2, 5-9, 12-16) is an uncensored exploration of the American condition.
The new year brings a recent off-Broadway hit, Matthew Lopez’s The Whipping Man (Jan. 23-27, 30, 31, Feb. 1-3, 6-10), which follows an unusual narrative line on the subjects of slavery and the end of the Civil War. A Jewish soldier in the Confederacy returns to his ruined Richmond home where he is taken in by two former slaves, and together they uncover secrets of their shared past. The South is also the setting of Catherine Trieschman’s Crooked (Feb. 27, 28, March 1-3, 6-10, 13-17), as 14-year-old Laney and her recently divorced mother move back to Oxford, Miss., where the girl befriends another misfit who figures out family secrets.
Stephen Adly Guirgis’ title comes with its own eye-catching censorship: The Motherf**ker with the Hat (April 10-14, 17-21, 24-28). Addiction, recovery and adultery are promised, but, yes, it’s also a comedy. Alice Eve Cohen’s one-woman What I Thought I Knew (June 12-16, 19-23, 26-30) deals with motherhood, our fractured medical system and surprising choices. It’s based on Cohen’s best-selling book of the same title, which was on Oprah Winfrey’s 25 best summer books list. And not part of the main series is an original work, Rachel Lampert’s And, Lately . . . (May 8-12, 15-19), a non-linear, site-specific event beckoning spring.
Founded by the late Murray Bernthal a half century ago to bring to town the best in national touring performances, Famous Artists/NAC Enterprises (424-8210) has three new shows this season and two deathless favorites. Further, this season’s slate will be split between two venues: the newly renovated Landmark Theatre, 362 S. Salina St., and the Mulroy Civic Center’s Crouse-Hinds Concert Theater, 411 Montgomery St.
The Landmark has the season’s biggest draw: Jersey Boys (Oct. 9-14, 16-21, 23-28), the Tony Award-winning jukebox musical of the rise of the Four Seasons rock group. Four blue-collar, Italian-American guys, Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi, achieve stardom with songs like “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Also at the Landmark will be live musical performances of the popular avant-garde Blue Man Group (Jan. 31-Feb. 3).
The Crouse-Hinds takes over the balance of the schedule. The recent Broadway hit of Andrew Lippa and Marshall Brickman’s The Addams Family (March 25-27) is based on the celebrated New Yorker cartoons and the subsequent 1960s black-and-white TV sitcom. Brought back by popular demand, really, is the musical version of Peter Pan (April 15-17), with former gymnast Cathy Rigby, a perennial Famous Artists favorite. Closing the season is one of the most admired of all American musicals, Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story (May 28-30).
For opera buffs there is never a question about familiarity. Ticket-holders enter the theater fully informed about the plot and the score. The reward is in hearing it all made new, with an audacious mix of voices in the second act quartet. Syracuse Opera (476-7372) has been making the right decisions as we remain the smallest metropolitan area in the nation with our own professional company. See page 24 for all the details.
After a year in which Stephen Svoboda’s artistic direction gave us the sulfurous Bat Boy: The Musical and a Twelfth Night done as a Long Island farce, we know we never need fear the bland or conventional at The Redhouse (201 S. West St., 425-0405). Then again, next season features familiar titles (actual performance can be another matter), with only one area premiere.
Svoboda’s program begins early with the evergreen The Fantasticks (Thursday, Aug. 30-Saturday, Sept. 1, 6-8), this time set at a 1950s drive-in movie theater. Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins (Oct. 4-6, 10-13) portrays the would-be killers of presidents as tragic (Booth) and also absurd (Squeaky Frome). Absurdity mixed with social message marks the musical Hairspray (Nov. 29, 30, Dec. 1, 6-8, 13-15), with a score by Marc Shaiman in this adaptation of the John Waters movie set in 1960s Baltimore.
Margaret Edson’s unusually spelled W;t (Jan. 16, 18, 19, 24, 26, 30, Feb. 1, 2) portrays a haughty literature professor facing death. The anticipation of death also underlies and darkens the humorous and naughty vignettes of Paula Vogel’s Baltimore Waltz (Jan. 17, 19, 23, 25, 26, 31, Feb. 2), in which a brother and sister have a wild old time in Europe while one of them faces a terminal disease. W;t and Baltimore Waltz will play concurrently, inviting comparison of their comparable themes. Redhouse artistic associate Laura Austin also stars in W;t.
Michael Frayn’s Pirandellian farce Noises Off! (March 28-30, April 3-6) will test how much can be staged in the intimate space on South West Street. Lastly, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (May 2-4, 8-11) is the new, non-musical adaptation by John Caird and Trevor Nunn of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and reportedly is deeply faithful to the author’s original vision.
With the remodeling of the lobby and the association with nearby recording studios, the Redhouse has become a chic place to hang out as well as a multipurpose arts facility. Having so many arts-oriented people nearby means that the stage might be the venue for short-run shows coming in from out of town, like the Wardrobe Ensemble’s Riot, which ran two days in mid-August with very little lead time. This is a space to watch.
Garrett Heater and Susan Blumer’s Covey Theatre Company (420-3729), the only one to keep using the Mulroy Civic Center’s BeVard Room, has become a top competitor at the annual Syracuse New Times Syracuse Area Live Theater (SALT) Awards. As it is also the only fully staged company that regularly gives us original dramas from Heater’s word processor, its full list of offerings tends to unfold over the year.
Two titles were available at press time. Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park (Sept. 14, 15, 21, 22), is one of the gagmeister’s most enduring hits. Playing God (Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10) is the original Heater work for the fall. Three disparate authors are coerced into co-authoring a new book through veiled motives by their agent. Clashes are immediate: One has written a critically acclaimed semiautobiography, the second a series of successful thrillers, and the third scribe (a male) produces chick-lit. Karis Wiggins is featured as the thriller writer.
Heater’s originally scheduled premiere of Lincoln’s Blood, with Jodie Baum tapped to play Mary Todd Lincoln, has been postponed to another Covey season. Perhaps Heater needs to rewrite his play to accommodate this summer’s movie-multiplex revelation that Lincoln was also a Civil War-era vampire slayer.
“Brought back by popular demand” is often empty flackery, but in this case three of this season’s shows from Rarely Done Productions (performances at Jazz Central, 441 E. Washington St., 546-3224) were impossible-to-get-tickets sellouts the first time around. Founder Dan Tursi directs all but one production.
For starters there’s Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart’s The Musical of Musicals: The Musical (Oct. 19, 20, 26, 27, Nov. 2, 3). The premise is silly; the execution ingenious. We see a perfectly insipid plot line as if reimagined by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Kander and Ebb and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Also back for an encore is William Finn and James Lapine’s Falsettos (April 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20), which centers on Marvin, a confused, bisexual man in Manhattan. Each of the three acts was originally part of free-standing trilogy of one-acts. Jeff Unaitis, long a champion of this venture, serves as music director. And in the June wild-and-crazy slot, one of the most outrageous fringe musicals of all time comes again: Erica Schmidt’s Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical (June 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22). Part spoof, part celebration, Rarely Done’s Debbie presents only clothed performers and implies actions, but you’ll still want to leave the kids at home.
Not seen recently on local stages is Suddenly, Last Summer (March 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23), one of Tennessee Williams’ lusher dramas, filled with madness, threatened lobotomies, family secrets and prose poetry. The 1959 film version with Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor censored and distorted the drama.
That does not mean children are neglected. Under Rarely Done’s Educational Program rubric comes Pieces of the Quilt (May 9-11, 17, 18), a musical examination of the many names to be found on the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and co-produced with the Q Center at AIDS Community Resources. Also on tap is the kid-friendly entry from the DorMouse Series, Elizabeth and Victorian Kann’s Pinkalicious: The Musical (Sept. 22, 23, 29, 30, Oct. 6, 7), with direction by David Cotter and choreography by Jodi Bova-Mele. This is about the girl who can’t stop eating pink cupcakes until she herself turns completely pink.
Although Mark Allen Holt has earned high marks as the new artistic director, Appleseed Productions (performances at the Atonement Lutheran Church’s Fellowship Hall, 116 W. Glen Ave., 492-9766) remains the United Artists of community theater, where different, even disconnected, directors can pursue individual visions. Veteran local performer Dan Stevens follows his penchant for erudite British humor in Tom Stoppard’s early comedy, The Real Inspector Hound (Sept. 14, 15, 21-23, 28, 29), with critics getting roasted again. Pat Marzola has opted to direct Claire Luckham’s The Choice (Oct. 26, 27, Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10), about the anguish faced by a young couple when they learn their expected child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. No stage production is slated for the holidays, but upstairs in the church sanctuary we can share an all-county musical celebration of Christmas (Dec. 22, 23).
In the new year former artistic director C.J. Young will stage one of Neil Simon’s most-admired (Tony and Pulitzer) comedies, Lost in Yonkers (Feb. 15, 16, 22, 23, March 1, 2). Marcia Mele has already been cast as Grandma Kurnitz. Then comes one of the rarest dramas from World War II, little seen on any stage for many decades. Lois Haas will direct Cry Havoc (May 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18), about the sufferings of American nurses during the Japanese onslaught on Bataan. Looking forward to next summer, SALT-winning director Sharee Lemos will stage Jule Styne and Bob Merrill’s Sugar (July 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27), based on Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s Some Like It Hot, named the No. 1 Hollywood comedy of all time by the American Film Institute.
Chris Lightcap’s The Talent Company (479-SHOW), always a strong competitor at SALT Awards time, performs most often these days in the New Times Theatre at the New York State Fairgrounds. In the weekends before Halloween the company will revive the granddaddy of all audience participation rock musicals, The Rocky Horror Show (Oct. 19, 20, 26, 27), with two midnight performances on Saturdays, Oct. 20 and 27.
Three years after the death of Joseph N. Lotito, his widow, composer-pianist Pat Lotito, is still chomping at the bit. Her traveling company, Salt City Center for the Performing Arts, will reprise one of Joe’s favorite roles in Fiddler on the Roof (Oct. 5-7), with Bob Brown as Tevye under the direction of Dan Tursi, for a one-weekend run at Nottingham High School, 3100 E. Genesee St. (749-7469).
As the holiday season approaches, Salt City Center will also collaborate with Open Hand Theater in the revival of their specialty, Giancarlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors (Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 2, 7-9, 13-15), at the First English Lutheran Church, 501 James St. (476-0466). The production will feature the voices of Brown and Cathleen O’Brien.
Young at Heart
Unlike other theaters, the collegiate companies don’t have to keep their eyes on the bottom line but rather seek to give drama students the widest and most demanding experience. At the Syracuse University Drama Department (820 E. Genesee St.; 443-3275), no other outfit can bring us a gospel-rock musical like Violet or a Jacobean incest-tragedy like ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore.
Two trends make this season different from those of recent years. One is a doubling of collaboration with Syracuse Stage, giving students professional experience while still taking classes. Not just the aforementioned holiday show, White Christmas, but also A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which the powers-that-be clearly expect to be a box-office draw in the larger Archbold Theater. Also, in this second year of department chair Ralph Zito’s era, all the directing duties except one are taken not by old, familiar faces but rather professionals invited in from the outside.
Director Brian Cimmet had extensive national credits before his appointment last year, and Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along (Sept. 28-30, Oct. 3-7) is his first assignment. Borrowing a conceit pioneered by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart in the 1930s, all action is told in reverse time so that the heels and cutthroats of today progress into the innocents they were 11 years earlier.
Italy was the setting for Elizabethan England’s most famous lovers, Romeo and Juliet, and so it is for Jacobean England’s most scandalous lovers, Annabella and her brother Giovanni, in John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore (Nov. 2-4, 7-11), published in 1633. It’s a title every English major knows but a play few audiences ever get to see. Celia Madeoy, a new assistant professor with national credits, directs.
Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls (Feb. 15-17, 20-24) follows two British working-class sisters during the harrowing early Thatcher years in a show that has retained its sharp comic edge for 20 years. A famous early scene brings alive celebrated women from myth and history, like Pope Joan. It will be directed by new faculty member Tim Davis-Read, a widely experienced actor who played the adult Ralphie in Syracuse Stage’s A Christmas Story (2010).
Finally, the only familiar name among the directors, Rodney Hudson, will bring us Brian Crawley and Jeanine Tesori’s Violet (April 19- 21, 24-28), set in the South during the civil rights struggle of 1964. The story follows a troubled young woman who hopes that a TV evangelist can help her, and along the way meets a young soldier who teaches her about beauty and what it means to be an outsider. Brian Cimmet returns as the music director for Tesori’s score (she also wrote Caroline, or Change).
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 its stage for different productions. Dynamic assistant professor Matt Chiorini adapts and directs Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest (Oct. 26, 27, Nov. 1-3), certain to introduce unconventional characterizations. Longtime faculty member and admired actress Leslie Noble will bring Craig Lucas’ dark comedy Reckless (Feb. 15, 16, 22, 23) to the upstairs Black Box. Although badly adapted as a 1995 film with Mia Farrow, Reckless is a kind of Alice in Wonderland inversion of It’s a Wonderful Life. And then to brighten spring we have the Pirate King himself in The Pirates of Penzance (April 6, 7, 12, 13), with Chiorini directing.
Founder Steve Braddock built a strong organization for the Gifford Family Theatre (at Le Moyne College’s Coyne Center, 1419 Salt Springs Road; 445-4230), which has survived and flourished since his departure a year ago. Le Moyne’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts has assumed management. The spring title had not been chosen at press time, but the scheduled dates will be May 24, 25, June 1, 7, 8, 14 and 15.
Artist-in-residence David Lowenstein, a director with international and national credits, brings strong credibility to the productions at Cazenovia College’s Catherine Cummings Theatre (16 Lincklaen St., Cazenovia; 655-STAR). The program often casts community theater veterans alongside students, with previous productions having attracted SALT nominations. Only one show is scheduled at press time, Neil Simon’s female version of The Odd Couple (Nov. 9-18).
The award-winning Media Unit (327 Montgomery St.; 478-8648) will present Honor the Code, depicting the difficulties of high school athletes as they maintain their pledge not to drink or take drugs during the season, with four performances on Thursday, Aug. 30, at the New Times Theatre during the New York State Fair. The troupe will also tour schools and youth centers with the bully-themed drama Ask the Question (October and November) and Refuge (March and April), which explores refugee teens attempting to assimilate into the local community. Midwinter brings the Teen Drama Black Box Festival (Feb. 21, 22), to be held in the BeVard Room of the Mulroy Civic Center. And Media Unit player Ana-rachel Richardson, named Best Female Performer at this year’s Michael Harms Theater Festival, will be featured in a one-person show during two May weekends at Syracuse Stage’s Black Box Theater.
Vive Le Difference
Armory Square Players, entering its 27th year and now under the direction of actress-playwright Donna Stuccio, 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. Among the playwrights featured this fall are veterans Kathy Kramer and Richard Harris and newcomer Janice Scully.
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, which remains the most photogenic of all local theatrical venues. Aside from the aforementioned collaboration with Salt City Center for Amahl and the Night Visitors at the First English Lutheran Church, 501 James St., the museum will host a number of puppet programs for children on select Saturdays at 11 a.m.
Formerly known as Not Another Theater Company, Dustin Czarny’s outfit is now Central New York Playhouse (885-8960), with performances in a new space at Shoppingtown Mall’s second floor, opposite Gertrude Hawk Chocolates and Tuxedo Junction. To facilitate this transformation, the company is launching an ongoing fundraiser through Sept. 30. Highlighting the campaign on Sept. 7 will be a celebrity roast at Eastwood’s Palace Theater ballroom, 2384 James St., for two of community theater’s busiest personalities: ultra-versatile actress Binaifer Dabu and can-build-anything set designer Navroz Dabu.
Productions begin with Tom Dudzick’s Buffalo-based backstage comedy Don’t Talk to the Actors (Nov. 9-11, 15-18, 23, 24). Jerry Przpezniak and his fiancée are two greenhorns swept up in the whirlwind of professional theater. In time for the holidays comes George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s evergreen farce The Man Who Came to Dinner (Dec. 7-9, 13-16, 20-22), in which a sophisticated and overbearing New Yorker blows apart the cozy calm of a serene small-town Ohio family.
Dates not yet specific for 2013 include: Ray Cooney’s British farce Two Into One (January); Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire (February); Neil Simon’s autobiographical comedy Brighton Beach Memoirs (April); Monk Ferris’s absurdist spoof Hamlet Cha-Cha-Cha (June); the counter-Puritanical musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (July); the Monty Python Arthurian-spoof musical Spamalot (September); the Scopes Monkey Trial drama Inherit the Wind (October); and Christopher Durang’s off-the-wall satire Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge (December).
With a total of 4,500 square feet, Central New York Playhouse has room for the improvisational company Don’t Feed the Actors (beginning Nov. 3) and Kasey McHale’s one-woman cabaret (Nov. 30). Although the new space has no kitchen, Czarny is planning for evenings of dinner theater with victuals trucked in from a nearby caterer.
Life’s a Niche
Ronald Bell has been the moving force behind Syracuse Shakespeare Festival (443-8781, 476-1836; syracuseshakespeare
festival.org) for 10 seasons, the company best known for the summertime outdoor productions in the Thornden Park Amphitheatre. Next season brings a variety of productions under different rubrics, two of them dedicated to younger audiences. ART: Avon Repertory Theatre has presented one-hour abridgements of the classics to more than 15,000 people in area schools, businesses and community organizations for more than six years. Featured this year are Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Night’s Dream. And KIDS: Kids Doing Shakespeare is an intense 25-hour week program with youngsters learning everything about putting on a show, from costumes to dance, which culminates in a performance at Thornden Park next July 12.
Nora O’Dea will be illuminating the Bard’s life through the eyes of the original Anne Hathaway, the playwright’s wife, in Vern Thiessen’s Shakespeare’s Will (Jan. 11, 12), a pay-what-you-can fundraiser at Syracuse University’s Warehouse Theater, 350 W. Fayette St. The two titles from Shakespeare-Under-A-Roof include The Merchant of Venice (Feb. 15-24), directed by Sharee Lemos at the New Times Theatre, and Moliere’s The Misanthrope (April 5-15) back at the Warehouse.
Festivities at Thornden Park come under two flags. The pay-what-you-can Shakespeare-on-the-Grass offers the horror drama Titus Andronicus (June 21-30), directed by Dan Stevens, and the freebie Shakespeare-in-the Park show at Thornden Park is the Bard’s comedy The Winter’s Tale (Aug. 8-18).
Central New York Shakespeare Inc. (569-5488, cnyshakes.com), founded in 2011 by young veteran player Terry LaCasse and colleagues from Le Moyne College, has been operating out of the Cazenovia College Theatre, where its most distinguished production was King Lear with Michael Barbour in June. Plans have been hampered by the lack of a permanent base closer to Syracuse. That may be solved when the company moves to the auditorium of the Jewish Community Center, a former middle school, on 5655 Thompson Road, DeWitt. Several titles are under consideration, not all with Shakespearean associations. Romeo and Juliet, directed by Todd Quick, is slated for June.
The recently widowed Jack Skillman, while lamenting the departure of his soul mate partner Doris, soldiers on as he takes his venerable company Onondaga Hillplayers (468-5472; 492-1221) into its 53rd year. His best-buy dinner theater package revives another fast-paced farce by the New Jersey-based team of Billy Van Zandt and Jane Millmore, The Senator Wore Pantyhose (Oct. 26, 27, Nov. 2-4), featuring sex and politics, but no religion. Tank Steingraber directs. The company performs at the Links at Sunset Ridge on Route 175 in Marcellus.
Now in its 70th year, the oldest continuing theater of any kind in the area, Baldwinsville Theatre Guild (at the Presbyterian Educational Center, 64 Oswego St., Baldwinsville 13027; 877-4183) has one title to announce at press time. Pat Bridenbaker will direct The Sunshine Boys (Oct. 26, 27, Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10), Neil Simon’s essay on comedy with John LaCasse and Jon Barden as the old vaudevillians.
The ACME Mystery Theater (at Spaghetti Warehouse, 689 N. Clinton St.; reservations, 475-1807) begins its 16th season in 2012-2013 with more performances of interactive mystery-comedies on Thursdays at 6:45 p.m. This fall’s entry is The Sound of Murder (Sept. 20, 27, Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, Nov. 1, 8). ACME continues to expand and solidify its base of regular and semi-regular venues in Central New York and keeps creating new and original scripts. 2013 looks to bring the western parody Low Noon, with other scripts such as The Polish Circus Detective taking shape as well.
Also in the Spaghetti Warehouse, but on Saturdays at 12:30 p.m., is Magic Circle Children’s Theatre, 449-3823, now in its 16th year. The interactive retelling of classic fairy tales invites participation from youthful audiences for only $5. The current show is The Three Little Princess Pigs (Saturdays, Sept. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29), to be followed with a new version of Cinderella by company founder Meredith Mancini, filled with comic anachronisms.
A few shows from the area’s summer-stock organizations are also spilling over into the new season. Auburn’s Merry-Go-Round Playhouse (Emerson Park, 6877 East Lake Road (Route 38A); 255-1785, (800) 457-8897) continues with the dark Kander-Ebb musical Cabaret (Wednesday, Aug. 29-Saturday, Sept. 1, 3-8), then moves into the Tony Award-winning hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Sept. 12-15, 17-22, 24-29) and concludes with the evergreen Nunsense (Oct. 3-6, 8-13, 15-20). Ithaca’s Hangar Theatre (810 Taughannock Blvd. (Route 89), Cass Park; (607) 273-8588, (607) 273-4497, (800) 284-8422) rolls on with the rock musical Next to Normal (Aug. 29-31, Sept. 1), then wraps with Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful (Sept. 6-9, 11-15). And Cortland Repertory Theatre (6799 Little York Lake Road, off Route 281, Preble; (607) 756-2627, (800) 427-6160) closes its season with Charles Ludlam’s wild farce The Mystery of Irma Vep (Wednesday, Aug. 29-Sunday, Sept. 2, 4-8).
In Hamilton, known as “the hip zip,” the Palace Theater (19 Utica St.; 824-1420) will present the original musical The Swiete Chocolate Factory (Sept. 28, 29) by the Palace Players troupe. There will also be a Sept. 15 one-man showcase for musical impressionist Nick Mulpagano, dubbed the “man of 1,000 voices,” in a production mounted by former Syracuse New Times publisher Art Zimmer, who apparently remains bitten by the show-biz bug.Several companies are in holding patterns. Regarding Encore Presentations (455-8654), the wife-and-husband team of M. Marie and Steve Beebe had an ambitious plan for seven openings last year, until their arrangement with the previous venue at Jamesville’s Glen Loch Inn came to an end. The search for a new venue remains active. And now in its 30th year, while the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company (email@example.com) remains committed to bringing high-quality performances, dramatic and musical, from the African American tradition, Robeson representatives did not respond to repeated calls for information in the weeks before press time.