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All Buffoonery, Double Entendres And Farce

Theater: ‘The 39 Steps’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Shakespeare & Company’s new fall production is “The 39 Steps,” a huge hit on Broadway and now a favorite of theater companies across the country.

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Faith and Uncertainty, Hand in Hand

Theater: ‘Doubt’
darrylg@lakevillejournal.com

The last few productions I’ve seen at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck have all been musicals that featured large casts, moving sets and choreographed dance numbers.
While I enjoyed those shows, the powerful simplicity of “Doubt” was a breath of fresh air that kept my attention glued to the stage until the final line of dialogue.

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Seeking the Greed Cure, Sort Of

Theater: ‘The Bonus Room’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Yes, we’ve heard lately about the 47 percent of Americans said to pay no federal income taxes (the elderly, the unemployed, the college bound, the afflicted, the impoverished and the very, very wealthy with sharp accountants).
But we have ignored the outliers, that 2 percent of the population that is successful, wealthy and incapable of minding the rules most people follow, most of the time.

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Maddening to Madcap

Theater Scene
compass@lakevillejournal.com

It has a familiar, nightmarish ring to it: Sonia, in her frumpy bathrobe, is snapping at Henry about his willingness to allow their screaming 6-year-old son to eat cookies in bed. He wants to placate the kid; she wants him to vaporize. Then Hubert and Inez, expected for dinner the next night, show up at the door and Aglet Theatre Company’s one-night production of Yasmina Reza’s “Life X 3” is underway.

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A Tale of Hard Times At Sherman’s Playhouse

Theater: ‘Of Mice and Men’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Critics can argue about John Steinbeck’s merits as a writer — even he never thought he deserved the Nobel Prize — but “Of Mice and Men” remains a powerful portrait of the heartbreaking aspirations of simple, fallen men and the honest comradeship, even love, that can exist between them.
It has no artistic pretensions nor grandeur; yet there is something magnificent in the telling of this ultimately tragic fable, even on the small stage in The Sherman Playhouse’s current revival.
Although Steinbeck published “Mice” as a book, he always intended it to be staged.

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Where Voters Have To Draw the Line

Theater: ‘November’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

If the political landscape looks strewn these days with cravenous and mean-spirited pinheads, willing to say or do anything to hold public office, I have news for you: Things could be worse, at least in David Mamet’s “November” at TheatreWorks in New Milford.
The writer of “Glengarry Glen Ross,” a disturbing and Pulitzer Prize-winning play about men willing to say or do anything to sell real estate, also wrote the screenplay for “Wag the Dog.” There, the president’s minions stage a war to divert attention from his hitting on a juvenile touring the White House.

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An Impressive Production Of a Show With History

Theater: ‘The Threepenny Opera’
darrylg@lakevillejournal.com

In the opening scene of “The Threepenny Opera” the stage of Rhinebeck’s Performing Arts Center is transformed into the back alleys of 19th-century London. A single, dim light hanging from the ceiling casts dark shadows on the ensemble of thieves, prostitutes and beggars, posing as still as a painting on the impressive two-story set that features archways and curving staircases (and even a hidden prison).

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Great Acting, The Trouble Is — No Drama

Theater: ‘Satchmo at the Waldorf’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

One of the country’s greatest stage actors is John Douglas Thompson. His New York City performances in “Othello” and O’Neill’s “Emperor Jones” were mesmerizing, and his 2010 “Richard III” at Shakespeare & Company was revelatory.
Now Thompson is in Lenox again, this time alone on stage as Louis Armstrong in Terry Teachout’s play “Satchmo at the Waldorf.”
It is a triumph for Thompson if not for Teachout.

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One Damn Thing After Another

Theater: ‘Parasite Drag’

The play “Parasite Drag”, playing at Shakespeare & Company through this Saturday, feels in some ways like a first draft in need of a clear-eyed editor. A grimly funny family melodrama about two estranged brothers who come together as their sister is dying, it’s full of distracting inconsistencies, clichés, and lines that are out of character or seem like the author editorializing. But not even an editor could cure the play’s overarching problem: the pileup of traumas that overwhelm the plot and ultimately sink it.

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It Takes a Head Full of People To Tell a Story

Theater Scene
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Some actors you love from the start. You will them to shine. You want them to dump their terror and stand in the light and be somebody intriguing, like Uncle Vanya, or their adolescent self, or their mother, or Peter O’Toole.
Really.
Which is just what actor/writer Elizabeth Richardson does in performing her imaginative and witty play, “Going On,” about performers, theater, fright, ambition and Buddhism through a bunch of characters created by people like Noel Coward and Anton Chekhov. And herself.

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