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Arts & Culture

May theater is busting out all over

The month of May is destroying my biggest gripe about local theater. That is, too often everything opens the same weekend, potentially limiting what the average person can attend.

I’m happy to say that May theater productions are spread out, so few sacrifices have to be made.

Even better, there are a number of excellent plays that deserve audiences. The range from familiar classics, challenging dramas, mysteries and even a world premiere.

One of the familiar classics is at Proctors in Schenectady Indeed it’s hard to get more familiar than “Cats,” the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that opened on Broadway 40 years ago in 1982. The show is so popular it’s survived probably the worst stage to film ever made. It opens Tuesday and plays through Sunday May 8.

The adventurous “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is offered at Home Made Theater Frida through Sunday until May 8. It’s a fascinating and heartwarming work about a young autistic boy solving the murder of a dog.

The usually staid Sand Lake Center for the Arts in Averill Park is presenting a world premiere musical, “Three Porches.” It’s an act of love as it was written by a local couple and tells a warm, affectionate story about family, friendships and neighbors. It plays Friday to Sunday until May 8.

A regional premiere is being offered at Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill. The professional troupe is offering “Clarkson” by Samuel D. Hunter. Last year they presented his companion play “Lewiston.”

The two are not dependent on each other, but each supports the playwright’s theme of the loss of individualism as glorified by the myths of the rugged western pioneers. Indeed, in what is termed Hunter’s “Idaho plays” he appears to be the heir apparent to Sam Shepard. It plays Thursday to Sunday May 8

At Curtain Call Theatre in Latham, another regional premiere “Long Lost” continues through May 15. It concerns two totally opposite brothers who try to reconcile after a 10 year separation. Spoiler Alert – things do not go well.

Next week, two diverse plays join the mix. Schenectady Light Opera Company in Schenectady produces “Violet,” one of the more neglected musicals in recent memory. Written by Jeanne Tesori ( who later helped create “Fun Home”), this touching tale of a woman whose face was disfigured in an accident, seeks a miracle and instead finds self-love. It’s a lovely, but neglected musical that should be seen. It runs May 6-15.

The same weekend, Collective License is offering “God of Carnage” as their second production in their new home at Cohoes Music Hall.

It is taut drama about two couples who meet in a civilized manner about a fight their two 11-year old sons had. The civil meeting turns very uncivil as the parents behave worse than their kids could ever dream of. “God of Carnage” was written in 2008 by Yasima Reza, the same person who wrote the popular comedy-drama “Art.” It plays May 6-18.

The third week in May offers a refreshing change of pace. “Deathtrap” written by Ira Levin (“Rosemary’s Baby) is, arguably, one of the best mysteries ever written for the stage. It’s full of twists, turns and tension. It’s about a famous mystery writer who has run out of ideas. He discovers that one of his students has written a brilliant mystery and decides to claim part ownership. Things quickly go badly, to the point that to reveal anything else would be a spoiler. It’s at Albany Civic Theatre weekends May 13-22.

Coinciding with the mystery in Albany, Schenectady Civic Players opens the contemporary comedy-drama, “The Cake.” This is no ordinary comedy, as it provides both laughs and social commentary. It deals with the dilemma of a cake maker who is asked to bake a wedding cake for a very dear young female friend.

When the cake maker discovers it is for a same sex wedding she finds herself in a moral dilemma. Should she go against her religious beliefs or hurt a friend? One of the reasons the work has been so successful is that it deals with the issue in a fairhanded way. It is a play about good people wanting to do the right thing, without knowing how to accomplish that. It plays May 8-22;

May theater treats end where they began – back at Proctors. May 17-22 the Lincoln Center production of “My Fair Lady” plays the Schenectady venue. It promises to be a lavish show with a heartwarming story and a great score.

There’s a lot of theater to see and with some planning, you don’t have to miss anything. Happy May.

Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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