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Learning To Audition For Musical Theater

compass@lakevillejournal.com

First, be prepared, says TriArts’ artistic director John Simpkins. Know the song you will sing inside out. Recite the words without the music. Figure out what it means. “The words come first,” Simpkins said. “Music is just the delivery system.” Also, know what key you should sing it in, and know how to tell the accompanist about the tempo and the mood of the piece. The 15 actors, ranging from 11 to 70-something, hung on every word, took notes and steeled themselves to perform for Simpkins and the group.

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Picking up Audition Skills

John Simpkins, TriArts’ artistic director, will be running a workshop for adults and high school students on auditioning for musical theater this Saturday, Jan. 5, at TriArts’ Bok Gallery from 1 to 6 p.m.
He knows a lot about auditions having, like so many young actors, come to NewYork to get theater jobs.
His first was on a cruise line.
His last was a role in “A Wonderful Life” at The Goodspeed Opera House where he discovered he really wanted to run the show, not be in it.
And that is what he does now at TriArts and at NYU.

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Here’s a Jolly Look at, Well, Musicals

Theater: ‘The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

The title tells it all: “The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)” is a fitfully funny, often charming parody of five musical theater styles. It is also a vehicle for over-the-top performances from a cast of four and a narrator-cum pianist. Currently playing at Theatreworks in New Milford, where the pianist/director/musical director/choreographer/set designer (whew!) is the talented veteran Bradford Blake, the show is diverting enough for a drive to New Milford.

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The Place for Magic, Burlesque And Plenty Of Bad Jokes

Theater: ‘Cinderella,’ (The Panto)
compass@lakevillejournal.com

In a land suffused with gender confusion — where nubile young men are played by nubile young women in shorts and stiletto heels, and where overbearing matrons are played by guys who always wanted to wear false eyelashes, outlandish wigs and evening dresses and could not because of their jobs and wives and offspring — there are pantos, that very British rearrangement of fairytales, seen of late in Northwest Connecticut.

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A Witty Look at Christmas

Theater: ‘The Santaland Diaries’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Like “The Night Before Christmas,” or “The Nutcracker,” David Sedaris’s “The Santaland Diaries” could almost be part of the Christmas ritual (there are two runs of this entertaining play within driving distance of Lakeville this year). Only what we have here is an autobiographical piece about a would-be actor nearly reduced to walking dogs before getting a job as a Christmas elf at Macy’s.

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It’s Panto Time

Theater Scene: ‘Robin Hood: Fifty Shades of Green’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Nobody does it better than the PantoLoons, presenting at the Ghent Playhouse, for a 13th time, a very British Christmas custom: the Panto. This year the fairy tale is based, oh so loosely, on Robin Hood, who steals from the 1 percent to feed the 47 percent. The plot, if you can call it that, turns on Maid Marian (Johnna Murray, who replaces her r’s with m’s like Elmer Fudd — her rendition of “Tomorrow” is worth the ticket price alone) and needs rescuing from the sheriff (Sally McCarthy).

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Wonderful, Heartbreaking

Theater: ‘ ’Night Mother’
darrylg@lakevillejournal.com

A simple, matter-of-fact line transforms a normal evening at home into an intense discussion as a mother tries to understand her daughter’s thinking.
“I’m going to kill myself, Mama.”
The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck is a perfect spot for “ ’Night Mother.” The stadium seating, which is close to the stage, gives the audience the opportunity to sit with the Cateses in their living room and kitchen, observing this powerful exchange between Thelma and her daughter, Jessie.

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New Ideas Ahead for TriArts

Michael Berkeley ­— for many the face of TriArts, a founding member, its music director for 8 years and its artistic director for the last 13 — has stepped down, or been squeezed out, as his friend Marshall Miles claimed on WHDD Robin Hood Radio recently.
Berkeley, age 54, says the board made him an offer he could not accept. His contract ran out Nov. 1.

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Life as Theater

The Theater Scene: ‘The Countess’ & ‘Dear Liar’
leong@lakevillejournal.com, compass@lakevillejournal.com

Take John Ruskin, Victorian England’s greatest art critic; John Everett Millais, one of its finest painters and surely the greatest Pre-Raphaelite artist; and Effie Gray, the Scotswoman who would marry the one and then, scandalously, the other. The story is so plummy, so ripe, it could never be dull. Well, dear readers, it could and is in the Ghent Playhouse’s new production, “The Countess.” (The title was Millais’ pet name for Effie.)

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At Aglet This Weekend . . .

Jeffrey Kent and Deann Halper during a break in rehearsing “Dear Liar,” about the love affair between George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell. This two-person piece runs at the Bok Gallery in Sharon Playhouse Oct. 12 and 13 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 14 at 2; and at Berkshire Theatre Festival’s Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, MA, Oct.19 and 20, both at 7 p.m. For reservations, call 860-435-6928.

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