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Theater

Just for Fun

karenb@lakevillejournal.com

If anything can give a musical production wings, it is an incredibly talented, charismatic lead. That would be Catherine Olson as Annie Oakley. Olson thoroughly enjoys the role, and takes the audience with her.
That is not to leave the rest of the cast, the director, choreographer and crew on the curb in this crisp version of “Annie Get Your Gun,” at The Center for the Performing Arts at Rhinebeck
this past weekend.

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Theater on Theater, Hard To Top That

An announcement at the start of “Curtains,” the backstage whodunit musical at the Warner Theatre in Torrington, was full of apologies. It seemed that the show had been moved from the large theater into the “black box” Nancy Marine Studio Theatre for budgetary reasons, and, if so, it was a shame, because the sightlines in the Marine are terrible for plays. Anyone at ground level, as I was, can’t see below the waists of any of the players.

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About Love. The Quirky Kind

Love, all kinds — new, unexpected, failed, glorious, strangled and exalted — is what John Cariani describes in “Almost, Maine,” an icy, star-fired and imaginary place whose residents are as close to the northern lights as they are to the the local pub, the Moose Paddy.
In eight vignettes, we encounter 19 characters wandering into, and sometimes out of, the mysteries of romance on a single freezing Friday night in the fictional and “unorganized territory” of Almost, Maine, a community of 300 or so souls near nothing at all at the top of Maine.

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Amazing Story, Amazing Theater

Theater: ‘The Elephant Man’
darrylg@lakevillejournal.com

While I was familiar with the story of Joseph Merrick, a man known for his extreme deformity in 19th-century London, I never had the opportunity to see the David Lynch film or Bernard Pomerance play about his life. I was able to to cross one of the versions off my list as I sat in the audience at the opening night of “The Elephant Man” at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck.

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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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