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Tourists visit a time-warped Scottish village in the still enchanting Brigadoon, now at Cortland Repertory
The American theater was a different place when Brigadoon premiered in 1947. For one, labor costs were much lower. So the first thing that strikes you about the vibrant new production at Cortland Repertory Theatre of the Alan Jay Lerner-Frederick Loewe evergreen is how huge it is: 34 speaking, singing and dancing roles, without counting the bagpiper. And seven musicians in the pit at stage right. Measured in terms of Scottish frugality, no other show of the summer returns such a large share of artistry for each penny of admission.Kilt by association: Sean Patrick Gibbons, Crystal Gramkee, Brendon North and Kaitlyn Frotton in Cortland Repertory’s Brigadoon.
The Talent Company’s All Shook Up cruises through a swivel-hipped batch of Elvis Presley rock hits
Although every single American citizen knows that Elvis Presley sang “All Shook Up,” the show titled All Shook Up sets out to invert every audience expectation. For one thing, it contains no Elvis impersonators, even though the subtitle reads, “Inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley.” The main character, a dark-browed roustabout named Chad (Tom Warner), might sport a curl-lipped snarl, but he resembles more the Marlon Brando character in The Wild One. Less expected are multiple allusions to Shakespeare (nothing to worry about), trampled racial taboos and abundant edgy humor. The Talent Company’s current production of All Shook Up is now shaking up the floorboards at the New Times Theater, inside the New York State Fairgrounds.
Grease is the word: Tom Warner (center) tells kids how to rock’n’roll in the Talent Company’s All Shook Up, featuring (first row, from left) Nina Pelligra, Danielle Lovier, Carleena Manzi, Nicole Attaie, David Cotter, Samantha Rey, Bianca Grant and Taylor Bigelow; (second row, from left) Eddie Powers, Jordan Westfall, Daryl Acevedo, Sean McAnaney, Mike Winslow, Edmond O’Neal and Paige Marsteller.
Union strife in the fab 1950s leads to dance fever in Cortland Repertory’s fun revival of The Pajama Game
The Pajama Game, the innovative smash hit from 1954, is remembered fondly for three reasons. One is that it proved the legend of 42nd Street could come true when second lead Carol Haney broke her ankle and the previously unknown Shirley MacLaine came up from the chorus to become an instant star. Secondly, in the big dance numbers young choreographer Bob Fosse made his first breakthrough. Thirdly, it’s one of only two musicals by shooting star Jerry Ross, who died tragically of lung disease at age 29 after completing his second, Damn Yankees. And since Cortland Repertory Theatre had a smash hit last summer with Damn Yankees with Dominick Varney as Mr. Applegate, it seems like the right moment to mount the first Ross show, with Varney back in a scene-stealing supporting role. Broken ankles we can do without.Labor pains: Company fave Dominick Varney (center), flanked by Marissa Dompe, Annali Fuchs, Annie Duckett, Crystal Gramkee and Kaitlyn Frotton in Cortland Repertory’s The Pajama Game.
Slamming doors, British accents and mistaken identities spark Cortland Repertory’s funny farce See How They Run
Farce ain’t for sissies. Neither is it for the halt of lip or limb. Instead it calls for the litheness of a gymnast, the balance of a tightrope walker and the unwavering precision of a Marine recruit. Cortland Repertory Theatre has been developing a tradition for farces, mostly British, with different directors, over the past several summers. Now company artistic director Kerby Thompson weighs in with Philip King’s taut little item, See How They Run.Revved-up reverend: From left, De Anne Dubin, Michael Schaefer, Rebecca McGraw (on the floor), Richard Hollis (leaping above her) and Annie Duckett in Cortland Repertory’s See How They Run.
Appleseed’s Wedding Singer adds a pleasing 1980s musical bounce to an Adam Sandler movie showcase
June had become a slack time for Syracuse theaters, when all the action was in Cortland, Auburn and Ithaca. Then in 2007 Appleseed Productions director Greg Hipius decided to bring in more than two dozen men in wigs and knee britches for the Declaration of Independence musical, 1776. It became an unexpected hit, spawning a mini-tradition with the company.
Wit’s End Players accentuates the Nazi menace in the musical-drama Cabaret
Director David Witanowski of the Wit’s End Players has long shown an aptitude for darker musical shows. No other local company has mounted productions of Sweeney Todd, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Assassins. So if Witanowski is going to essay John Kander and Fred Ebb’s Cabaret, a more familiar item than those previous three, you know he has to favor the edgiest interpretation ever seen at local venues. It’s currently on the boards at the New Times Theater at the New York State Fairgrounds.Ham and legs: Garrett Heater (center) in the Wit’s End Players production of Cabaret.
A man with a turntable triggers memories of old-school musicals in Merry-Go-Round’s spiffy spoof The Drowsy Chaperone
Casting a key role, they tell us in Dramaturgy 101, colors the entire show. The idea of putting former Syracuse Stage artistic director Robert Moss in the role of the narrator, “The Man in the Chair,” of the musical spoof The Drowsy Chaperone, the season opener at Auburn’s Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, is not just a sop or a gimmick. Moss could fairly be called “beloved” (admittedly, an asset at the box office), but he also brings qualities otherwise hard to achieve: real authority worn lightly, bristling with irony.Familiar fun: Jenny Long, Brad Nacht, Michael Munoz and Bryan Plofsky in Merry-Go-Round’s The Drowsy Chaperone.
Everyone’s a suspect in Cortland Repertory’s welcome revival of the Agatha Christie mystery Spider’s Web
It’s no mystery, really, why Cortland Repertory Theatre enjoys mounting whodunits penned by the immortal Dame Agatha Christie (1890-1976). They are reliable box-office draws that fit in perfectly with CRT’s charmingly intimate venue, located on the second level of the Dwyer Park Pavilion on the shore of Little York Lake. Combine a lavishly appointed drawing-room set (don’t forget the hidden hallways that lurk behind seemingly innocent bookshelves!) with actors having fun with their English accents, plus the prime ingredient of murder most foul, and what should emerge is a jolly good time, which is pretty much what happens with CRT’s season opener of Spider’s Web.Get a clue: Bits of business abound in this photo involving (from left) Dale Young, Nancy Kane, Lisa Podulka, Sonya Cooke and Chris Nickerson in Cortland Repertory’s Spider’s Web.
B-movie sirens get catty and chatty in Rarely Done’s cinema spoof musical Scream QueensShriek forever after: Clockwise from left, Korrie Strodel, Aubry Panek, Colleen Wager, Cruz Gonzalez Cadel, Dorothy Lennon and Erin Williamson in Rarely Done’s Scream Queens.
Until now Rarely Done Productions’ annual June offering of outrageousness has favored the East Coast. Starting with Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical (2007), artistic director Dan Tursi has ferreted out edge-busting little satirical revues that originated at the New York Fringe Festival. This year Tursi’s justly named Rarely Done is giving us the East Coast premiere of Scott Martin’s Scream Queens, the current tenant at Jazz Central, 441 E. Washington St. Martin’s show opened in Santa Monica in 1998 and served briefly as the basis of a VH1 reality series in 2008. Put side-by-side we see the difference. East Coast satire always comes with a certain bite, sometimes cutting deep. In La-La Land they not only love what they spoof, they revel in it.