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Getting audiences to pay attention to the act when most of them have come to party. That was the daunting task facing director Margarett Perry in getting Noel Coward’s 80-year-old high comedy, Private Lives, on the boards in the Kitchen Theatre Company’s gleaming new space at 417 W. State St. in Ithaca. Local merchants pitched in every night of the first week for casks of free-flowing wine and bountiful trays of munchies. Steady, even cascading, laughter commands attention, of course, but so does finding surprising new angles in a beloved treasure. Much like what has happened to the theater company itself.Cowardly lines: Brian Dykstra and Carol Halstead in Kitchen Theatre’s Private Lives.
The cynics are crushed. The arrival of the Alfred Uhry-Jason Robert Brown musical Parade as Appleseed Productions’ season premiere was greeted with—let’s face it—more apprehension than exhilaration. Despite the near-cult status for the CD, the original Hal Prince-produced Parade (1998) ran only a measly 39 previews and 89 performances. Many find the Brown score, ahem, an acquired taste. And the book, about an outrageous miscarriage of justice in 1913, looks from afar like a downer.
We love them from the day before yesterday, as in Forever Plaid or All Shook Up. And we love them before living memory, as in Tintypes. Old songs from the great deep river of American popular music are an inexhaustible resource. If there are a million songs out there (2 million? 5 million?), that’s more than enough to fill a thousand stage shows bringing them back to life, snapping their fingers and kicking up their heels. It’s just a matter of building the right package. And Roger Bean, creator of The Andrews Brothers, has the right frame: It’s a show about putting on a show.Dudes look like ladies: Counterclockwise from lower left, Gordon Maniskas, Andrew K. Moss, Sean Riley and Lara Hayhurst in Cortland Repertory’s The Andrews Brothers.
Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion’s 1965 Broadway smash Man of La Mancha is on that list The New York Times’ Jesse McKinley compiled of the 15 American musicals that can be revived endlessly. Coming one year after the arrival of The Beatles and two years before Hair, it is also arguably one of the last golden-age musicals. The show’s big number, “The Impossible Dream,” even feels like Rodgers and Hammerstein. But thanks to a complex book by Dale Wasserman (who also wrote the stage version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), with plays-within-plays and multiple characterizations, audience members who have seen La Mancha more than once have been known not to understand all the exits and entrances. The new production at Auburn’s Merry-Go-Round Playhouse magnifies and clarifies all that it has to offer.Dancin’ in the dungeon: The Man of La Mancha ensemble during Merry-Go-Round Playhouse’s current production.
Unlike most of my alternative newspaper colleagues, I have the good fortune of working in a city with a world-class school of journalism at Syracuse University. That means I am afforded the opportunity to meet, “hire” and nurture young journalistic talent through the bustling newsroom of the Syracuse New Times. Rarely am I without a 20-something charge to help with our Times Table, write about food and wax philosophic about music.
Through the heart of downtown Syracuse runs Montgomery Street. One block of it stretches north-south from East Fayette to East Jefferson streets and is home to the YMCA of Greater Syracuse, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Onondaga Historical Association (OHA).“The building we are in was not designed to be a museum:” Onondaga Historical Association executive director plans to open up the streetscape windows and let passers-by see the treasures hidden inside. AVANTIKA SHARMA PHOTO
Gregory Wood was playing his cello during a concert in the Mulroy Civic Center’s Crouse-Hinds Theater when he noticed something wasn’t right. The violists were growing. Wood, the assistant principal cellist of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, continued playing as though nothing was happening, but it was hard to ignore his colleagues who were now towering above him. When Wood finally had an opportunity to look around, he realized the violists weren’t getting taller, his cello section was sinking.
The operators of the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse and the Stanley Theatre in Utica knew they were in for some tough competition when the Turning Stone Resort and Casino opened its first performance venue in 2002.Gold standard: Currently undergoing a renovation project, the Landmark Theatre, like its Utica counterpart the Stanley Theatre, is also figuring out ways to compete with the venues at Turning Stone. MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTO
During the current Great Recession, financial support for the arts is drying up like the Sahara Desert. In this fiscally arid climate, the arrival of a new funding source would be like a downpour of life-giving water to the cultural scene. The new and little-known Cultural Resources Trust (CRT) could just be that source.
It is not unusual for universities to bring musicians, visual artists, poets and dancers to their campuses to enrich student life. Columbia University in New York, for example, offers original and daring performances of new music in its 688-seat, on-campus Miller Theatre. At its Palace Theater for the Performing Arts, Colgate University in Hamilton offers a ticketed series of musical and theatrical events throughout the school year.