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You Musn’t Go Home Again

Theater: ‘The Subject Was Roses’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Alone in the living room, John Cleary tries on his son’s Army jacket. It’s tight, and he takes it off before anyone can see, anyone being his wife, Nettie, and their boy, Timmy.
That’s how Frank Gilroy opens his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “The Subject Was Roses” about a wildly troubled middle-class family in the Bronx.
It’s the 1940s and young men are returning from war. Timmy (Matthew Bagley) is one of them, but he is not heading into peace and security. The Cleary household is another kind of war zone. The soul-killing kind.

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Asking for Trouble

Theater: ‘A Man for All Seasons’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Ah! Americans love British drama about class, intrigue and, when possible, royalty. Take, say, “My Fair Lady,” “Downton Abbey,” or, even better, “A Man for All Seasons,” this last drawing good-sized audiences to Rhinebeck’s Performing Arts Center.
This Centerstage Production has it all: beginning with an incorruptable polititian in Sir Thomas More, the king’s chancellor, who insists that the rule of law must be defended, no matter the cost.

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A Bad Time For the Truth

Theater: ‘Pack of Lies’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

The title says it all: In Hugh Whitemore’s “Pack of Lies,” everyone has reason to skirt the truth. Not sensible reasons, nor lofty reasons nor even pernicious reasons. But lies lead the way because truth is hard.
This Cold-War tale, set in 1961 and written a couple of decades later, involves spies who do not own up to the role, and patriots who cannot take on their role without destroying friends.

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‘Adjustments’ Gets Another Reading

Ilene Tetenbaum and Gloria Miller, both from Salisbury, will see their play “Adjustments: A Gentle Comedy for Cynical Times,” get a partial reading at 7:30 p.m., March 23 at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, MA.
This play, about a woman losing a husband and seeking another, is part of an evening about women and their stories being presented by Made in the Berkshires, part of the Berkshire Theatre Group. In addition to several play and poetry readings, the evening will conclude with a conversation with the writers and a glass of prosecco.

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Theater, for the Joy of It

The Theater Scene
compass@lakevillejournal.com, leong@lakevillejournal.com

Shakespeare & Company’s production of Moliere’s “The Learned Ladies” is a nonstop romp through the rarefied, shallow, upper class world of Louis XIV.
Gorgeously costumed and playing on a sumptuous set, a talented cast of young actors hurls translator Richard Wilbur’s rhyming couplets at each other in a game of “who gets the last word.”

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Theater of Hotchkiss

Avery Baldwin and Evangeline DiMichele rehearse their roles in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” playing Feb. 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 19 at 2:30 p.m., at Hotchkiss School’s Walker Auditorium.
This Pulitzer Prize-winning play is directed by Marcus Olson, the school’s new director of theater.
For information, call 860-435-3203.

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Like No Other

Theater: ‘Urinetown, The Musical’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Musicals are fairy tales. Some are jolly, like “Annie.” Some are grim: “Urinetown, The Musical,” for one.
Grim, perplexing, riveting.
At its heart, “Urinetown,” about a drought-ridden city and the corporate takeover of all toilets, is one long potty joke surrounding a tale of political domination and urban struggle. “Let my people pee” is scrawled on one wall of the grimy and admirably baleful set in this Ghent Playhouse production. But the UGC, the Urine Good Company, is totally in charge, forcing people to stand, squirming, in line waiting to pay for the UGC latrine.

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A Fairy Tale for Hard Times

Theater: ‘Annie’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

For a pretty standard fairy tale, complete with evil witch, imperilled orphan, a Titanically benevolent fairy godfather and, of course, a happy ending, the CenterStage production of “Annie” is smart and entertaining.
That is due in part to fine direction by AnnChris Warren, who’s good at keeping kids on stage from looking like headlight-stunned robots. Also, the music is smart. And the script is fine and often political (One of the shantytown residents sings out, “I’d like to thank you Herbert Hoover, you made us what we are today”).

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For the Fun of It

Theater: ‘Sleeping Beauty’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Along with the program for a panto (a second lick of something Brit creeping into New England, the first being the annual Ghent panto) Sherman Playhouse staff hands out a song sheet and an invitation to a christening. And so “Sleeping Beauty,” a pantomime with all the trimmings — men in drag, women in drag, the wicked witch, a fairy queen, a boy and a girl (both girls in this case) a few cracks about local politics, a dose of burlesque whenever possible and plenty of audience participation ­— has settled into the holiday landscape.

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Noel Coward and Friends

Theater: ‘Present Laughter’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

In Noel Coward’s play about self-centered, histrionic and mostly attractive theater people, Garry Essendine stands out. That’s because Coward was re-creating himself in “Present Laughter,” the drawing room comedy he wrote in 1939, when the world was falling apart.
This handsome, mannered and articulate actor is always on. “I’m watching myself go by,” he tells us.

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