Although the Paramount is dark, another kind of live theatre lives in these two upcoming shows in our area. If you culture vultures want to fill the void, I highly recommend these two productions:
Awake and Sing:
Cast member Richard Manichello describes the play as such: “Awake and Sing is Clifford Odets' masterpiece play set in the Bronx of 1934. Working class Jews, crammed in small apartments, took in boarders, scraped and struggled for every dime to make ends meet in Post-Depression New York. "Brother can you spare a dime..." Come and meet one such family, the Berger's. Poppa Jacob lives in with daughter Bessie and her husband, Myron, and two adolescents, Henni and Ralph. It's a little short on room for everyone, but full of love, bitterness, arguments, caring, memories, and hardship. Poppa's socialist/Marxist ideas clash with the Americanized new generation of Berger's. The 99% clashes with the 1%... rich Uncle Morty ... a successful dress manufacturer, and the old country Sam Feinschreiber clashes with the wisened War-Vet, Moe Axelrod, the paying guest in the household. Come watch what our middle-class forefathers endured just to live free, find work, make it through the 1930's, and Awake & Sing.”
I had the opportunity to see this show in preview last night. This is the best local theatre company I have seen in a long time. They actually are local actors, but they are also Equity actors for the most part. I was impressed and it takes a lot for me to be so inclined. The ensemble was excellent, especially the actor who played Mo. I was riveted by his every move, glance, and word. Everyone was spot on, except the actor who played the “Mama” who yelled too much, in my opinion. She started off this way and there was nowhere to go. This vocal level may have been an artistic choice – the woman was, after all, neurotic and troubled - but the yelling at times distorted what she was saying and that did not serve the play. (Actors also spoke on the opening and closing of doors, which also interfered with what was being said.) Otherwise, “Mama” was excellent, as was the rest of the cast. As for the Odets words, what poetry, the sheer use of language, metaphorical yet urban and ethnic was breathtaking. Technical note: Never a brown box with twine for cake from a bakery; always a white box with that signature New York red and white striped string tied in a bow. As a native Bronx-ite, that prop jumped out and screamed at me, WRONG! as Mo brought the dessert into the house. See this play. You will be impressed and awakened to sing its praises. Thanks, Morty!
Awake and Sing!
by Clifford Odets in a brand new staging.
October 18th through November 4th
At St. John's Episcopal Church Community House, Pleasantville, NY
For tickets: Call 1 800 838 3006 or visit http://brownpapertickets.com/event
Full disclosure. I am the co-artistic director of the Peekskill Playhouse, the company that is producing this show at the Bean Runner Café, Peekskill, NY. That said, I also recommend this show to you. Part of the Sunday Afternoon Live Theatre, Wine and Cheese Tastings, Live Music Series presented by the Bean and the Peekskill Playhouse. On October 28, doors open at the café for a staging of Anne Connolly's one-woman play, LADY WIFE, about the external and internal mind-set of a resident in an Assisted Living facility. Anne was voted Best Actress at the Sixth Annual 2012 AERY Theatre Company's 20/20 One-act Play Competition. Lady Wife was voted Best Play. Curtain goes up at 4:30 followed by Wine and Cheese tastings, and live music by Disco Cookie (whose music is not disco, but a cool blend of eclectic tunes by a bunch of highly talented high school students you won’t want to miss. Donation suggested at the door, $12 for all three events. Make reservations to secure a table – cabaret seating, and food and beverages available – at 914 737 1701. The Bean Runner Café is at the corner of Ester and S. Division Streets, just down the road from a little historic theatre that is crying to open its doors.