June is bustin' out all over
The calendar says Memorial Day is tomorrow .
Usually that means theater companies who produce fall through spring, have completed their seasons. Too, at this time of year, summer companies are usually gearing up for openings around the end of June.
Not this year. A couple of summer companies are starting their seasons the next week or two, the companies that usually perform fall through spring are still producing.
It’s the best of all possible worlds. Not only is there a lot to choose from - the choices are bold, challenging and entertaining.
This coming week, there are five offerings by cold weather theater groups.
They range from a sensitive, oddly structured musical, to a rarely produced trio of Samuel Beckett plays, to a socially conscious work about race relations during World War I. Plus there’s a comedy by one of the most unique playwrights working today.
The Beckett plays are produced by Troy Foundry and titled, “Echo Chamber: Beckett 3.” It’s offered Friday through June 18 at The Hart Cluett Mansion at 57 2nd Street in Troy.
The three Beckett one-actors are “Footfalls,” “Rockaby” and “NOT. I.” Each work is a dark, mysterious monologue that probes memory and the thoughts of the inner mind.
Individually and collectively the three pieces challenge performers and audiences to question one’s personal reality. To maintain the intimacy of the material the audience will be capped at 50 people per performance.
The unique musical is “The Last Five Years” produced by Home Made Theater and offered in the Dee Sarno Theatre at 320 Broadway in Saratoga Springs. The musical traces a couple from the beginning of their relationship, to their marriage and eventual divorce.
What makes the piece unique is the story is told by the individuals through their own perspective.
Cathy tells the story backwards, starting from when their relationship dissolved. Jamie starts from the time they met. The only time the couple are in the same time and place is on their marriage day.
Making the production, which runs two weekends, June 3-12, even more unique is that the couples will be played by two sets of actors, each performing twice within the same weekend.
Curtain Call Theatre in Latham opens “Ripcord” Thursday. The work, which plays through June 26, could be put in the category of how enemies become friends.
Abby, a cranky, almost mean, resident of a nursing home gets a new roommate. Marilyn is so pleasant and cheerful she drives Abby crazy.
It sounds familiar, but since it was written by David Lindsey-Abaire, one of the most original writers around, I doubt that you will be able to predict how the escalating pranks they play on each other will end. It’s no spoiler to tell that Marilyn’s family runs a sky-diving business.
“Ripcord” promises laughs aplenty and some touching insights on human nature.
There is also social relevancy available this weekend and next. “Camp Logan,” is offered by The Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY. As a resident theater of Capital Repertory Theatre they are presenting the play on the main stage theater space in Albany. It plays Thursday through June 12.
“Camp Logan” is the type of play that certain segments of the country would like silenced. It’s a true World War I military drama about how the racial tensions at Camp Logan developed into what is known as the 1917 Houston Riot.
Through six black soldiers it tells of the racial harassment that took place with a Black Battalion preparing for war.
When the Black soldiers were ordered not to defend themselves from rioters, they took up arms to protect their lives. Several civilian lives were taken in what was classified as a mutiny. It resulted in nineteen Black soldiers being executed and forty others given life sentences.
The story was sensationalized then buried and forgotten by White culture. Just as were the Black soldiers.
Putting frosting on the theater cake, a few summer shows are also available. Thursday and Friday, Opera Saratoga presents a performance of “Petite Messe Solennelle” at the Round Lake Auditorium in Malta.
Written by Rossini in 1863, the work often called “Little Solemn Mass” faded away after His. death in 1868. It found favor again about the time of the composer’s bicentenary in 1992.
If you prefer broader comedy, on Friday, Theatre Barn in New Lebanon begins a two weekend run of “Boston Marriage.” It’s a comedy written by David Mamet. That sentence tells you no matter how much you laugh, there will be a social point to the humor.
Shakespeare & Company is adding to the uniqueness of June. Friday night it begins a run of the one-person dramatic telling of “The Iliad.” Performed by MaConnia Chesser, Homer’s epic poem about humans’ compulsion for violence plays on the Tina Packer main stage through July 3.
It seems the only thing missing in early June is a big, brassy, bawdy musical.
Only kidding. Not So Common Players of Clifton Park is offering Stephen Sondheim’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” at its outdoor stage in Clifton Commons. It plays June 3-12. And it’s free from charge.
Just for a second, imagine if this much is going on at the beginning of June- think what awaits when the summer season actually begins.
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.