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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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Sentimental Book and Music, But Nice Performances In TriArts’ ‘Sound of Music’

Theater: ‘The Sound of Music’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Surely every theater company and every ambitious director wonders how do you produce an entirely new take on “The Sound of Music?”

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Ah, 1943, a Fine Year for British Farce

Theater: ‘See How They Run’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

It’s outlandish, dated, sly and juvenile, in the British way, making most of “See How They Run” very funny, starting with Ida the maid who strives to maintain order, more or less, in the vicarage at Merton-cum-Middlewick, a small and fictitious English village.
Ida (Dina Thomas) has an impenetrable Cockney accent and a keen sense of how to direct disaster, but her counsel is frequently ignored because that’s what makes this 1943 farce by Philip King hum.

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See How They Run . . . Or Not

Theater: ‘Running’

It’s a grand, old, West-Side Manhattan apartment, with ridged molding around the doors and windows, notched at each corner with bull’s eyes. And, magically, the apartment’s back wall is transparent, opening onto new buildings towering in the dark.
Just the spot for confusion, apprehension, awakening and other things in Arlene Hutton’s “Running.”

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A Wonder To See And To Hear

Theater: ‘The Tempest’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

“The Tempest” is a wonderful, accessible play. Probably Shakespeare’s last, it is full of wisdom, comedy, music, romance, anger, vengeance, forgiveness and redemption; and it is a near perfect vehicle for a large group of actors who are in various relationships with one another: ruler and ruled, master and servant, father and child.

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A Great Show in a Great Show

Theater: ‘Kiss Me Kate’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

This musical, “Kiss Me Kate,” has everything: Cole Porter, Shakespeare, actors, gangsters, a terrific book by Sam and Bella Spewack, wit, charm, joy. And it’s just the right piece for the Mac-Haydn, that time machine of a theater company in Chatham, NY, that harkens to summer nights when ladies wore hats and gloves to rural theaters and men wore pale linen suits that wrinkled like mad.

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Omigod, It’s on Stage Now

Theater: ‘Legally Blonde’
darrylg@lakevillejournal.com

If you saw the 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon, then you already know the plot of this song-and-dance-filled show by Up In One Productions, at Rhinebeck’s Center for Performing Arts. Sorority girl Elle Woods (played perfectly by Victoria McCarthy) longs for a proposal from her boyfriend Warner (Ryan Waterman), but he breaks up with her because she’s not serious enough for his political aspirations. She follows him to Harvard Law School in an attempt to win him back. Comedy, life lessons and musical numbers ensue.

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