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Artistic director Rachel Lampert bids farewell to the Kitchen Theatre’s Clinton House venue in the revealing Losing Myself
Rachel Lampert, artistic director at Ithaca’s Kitchen Theatre Company, is far and away the most successful playwright in the Syracuse New Times purview. Think of Lampert’s “original” Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, Precious Nonsense, reprised to sold-out houses at the Kitchen last winter. Or think of The Soup Comes Last, a one-woman recounting of the absurdities trying to stage West Side Story in China; it was the only locally written show to go to Manhattan and win acclaim in The New York Times. Given these and Lampert’s hordes of fans, and it’s hardly surprising that her newest, Losing Myself, is currently the region’s hottest ticket in its short two-week run. Even if those previous titles don’t make entirely clear where she is going.Down memory lane: Rachel Lampert (left, with co-star Erin Hilgartner) recalls her baker’s dozen years at the artistic helm for Kitchen Theatre’s Losing Myself.
Miss Nelson Has a Field Day continues the winning ways at Gifford Family Theatre
When given a choice, youthful audiences prefer characters that imply threat. That’s why Sesame Street chose the dark, Magyar-accented Count for the numbers game instead of clean-cut, WASPy Jonathan Harker. In The Wizard of Oz, every kid in America remembers snarling Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West but tends to forget angelic Billie Burke as Glinda.
Gays and straights cohabitate and commiserate in Rarely Done’s musical FalsettosOut and about: From left, Peter Irwin, Katie Lemos Brown, Nick Godzak and Josh Mele in the Rarely Done-ArtRage presentation of Falsettos.
The Tony Award-winning musical Falsettos isn’t mounted very much in this neck of the woods, maybe because it’s so damn hard to produce and cast. Think of it: A handful of well-defined Jewish characters explode into continuous song for close to three hours, on a bare-bones set consisting of, at times, some chairs, a chessboard and a few carrots. Oh yeah, this pop opera-ish cabaret filled with emotional complexities, witty wordplays and double entendres also concerns love and death in the gay ’90s. Not the 1890s, but the 1990s, when the show first hit Broadway in 1992, and not gay as in happy, either.
A Negro ex-baseball player in 1957 Pittsburgh provides the emotional power for Syracuse Stage’s Fences
Chris Bennon Photos
August Wilson’s Fences is one of a handful of dramas that Syracuse Stage has produced twice. The shortest explanation is that the Claude Purdy version (March 1991) was almost two decades ago, and that current producing artistic director Tim Bond has pledged to present all 10 Wilson dramas set in each decade of the 20th century. Another, more complex reason, is related to why Denzel Washington is appearing concurrently in a New York City revival you may have read about. We have all been praising Fences so much it’s time to look at again, to see if we mean what we say.
Pride and Prejudice gets a musical revamping in SU Drama’s I Love You Because
Musical theater specialist Marie Kemp has a thing for shows with the word “love” in the title. The Syracuse University Drama Department director mounted a chic version of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s She Loves Me in February 1997; that was a musical adaptation of the 1940 Hollywood movie (and an earlier Hungarian play) The Shop Around the Corner. In October 2004, it was the sparkling edition of Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, a witty collection of skits about relationships. Now it’s Ryan Cunningham and Joshua Salzman’s I Love You Because, about hip but mismatched young New Yorkers. Look closely, and you see this one is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with the genders reversed.
Appleseed heads to the Deep South for the race-card classic To Kill a Mockingbird
It’s the most popular American stage drama never to have played Broadway. When the late Christopher Sergel, son of the man owning Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Ill., adapted Harper Lee’s deathless novel To Kill a Mockingbird in 1990, he was thinking of the community theater market. Professional companies usually cannot afford a cast of 20 speaking roles, including two (segregated) galleries for the trial scene. In this heartfelt mounting by Appleseed Productions, director Sharee Lemos is sure to get that important staging—and all the others—done right.
A comely canine provides interspecies spice in the doggone funny sex comedy Sylvia
Not Another Theater Company’s still-new dinner-theater operation at the Locker Room Sports Bar, 528 E. Hiawatha Blvd., currently offers Sylvia, A.R. Gurney’s chic comedy about midlife obsession. Sylvia may have been inspired by a famous New Yorker magazine cartoon of two decades ago. Two middle-age men are sitting by a coffee table, with one fondling the head of a large dog, who appears to have a kind of understated Mona Lisa smile. He says, “Queenie’s such good company I sometimes think she’s almost human.” Then our eye travels to the lower right corner of the frame where we see that under the fur the cartoonist has drawn in a well-pedicured female foot.
A Kentucky slave recalls her eventful legacy for In This Place . . .
Out of the past: In This Place... star Michelle Hurst.
Only that which does not cry out,” wrote Irish poet W.B. Yeats, “is truly irresistible.” Such sentiments appear to have followed playwright Ain Gordon when he was invited to Lexington, Ky., to write a play on anything about the town that caught his fancy. Lexington is a university town, chock-a-block with monuments and plaques for a history that has been certified and commemorated. While visiting, Gordon learned that a now dilapidated house, rather grand when built, had belonged in antebellum times to a free black man named Samuel Oldham and his slave-born wife Daphney. Little was known about the couple, and no headstones could be found for them. On such meager crumbs as these Gordon has fashioned a banquet at Ithaca‘s Kitchen Theatre Company.
Improv masters Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood bring their wackiness to the Landmark on Saturday
When the British improv TV series Whose Line Is It Anyway? migrated across the pond to ABC in 1998, it became a Drew Carey-hosted free-for-all that vaulted two of its stars, Canada’s Colin Mochrie and America’s Brad Sherwood, to the top of the make-em-laugh pack. The series was largely unappreciated by ABC brass, which used it as low-cost spackle to fill any gaping holes in the network schedule, although it lingered for nearly 200 episodes before the network canceled it in 2003.
Marital discord in the 1950s provides a soap opera of sorts in Trouble in Tahiti
If you want to sing about the joy of new love, romance or passion, composers have infinite resources at their command. When the subject turns to disaffection, distress and anxiety, they call for another tune. Or maybe no tune at all. That’s what was on Leonard Bernstein’s mind when he composed his first modernist opera in 1952, the ironically titled Trouble in Tahiti, long assumed to be a portrait of his parents’ unhappy marriage. Outwardly little happens in the hour of action: a husband wins a handball trophy; a wife misses her son’s recital. But like the Gentleman Caller who left the Wingfield’s apartment earlier than expected, the resonance from each emotion runs deep.