Here’s some highlights from Proctors’ fall lineup

Theater expands 'Talkers' list
Cynthia Erivo and the cast of “The Color Purple” on Broadway.
Cynthia Erivo and the cast of “The Color Purple” on Broadway.

Categories: Entertainment

As the summer season cools down, Proctors heats up. 

There’s the Broadway shows that usually pack the theater. There’s the comedy series, the special events and various musical performances. This season, the theater is further developing its “Broadway” identity in a new cabaret music series. 

According to Michael Eck, a publicist for Proctors, the theater has also expanded its “Talkers” list (or guest speakers), adding a big name from Hollywood and from the Obama administration. 

Here are a few highlights from the season: 

‘The Color Purple: The Musical’ 

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Alice Walker, “The Color Purple,” tells the story of abuse, friendship and love in the American South. It’s a story that’s been told through film and on the Broadway stage many times over. 

“We had the show in 2009 and so many people loved it,” said Eck. 

But since then the classic musical has been reconstructed by award-winning director John Doyle. Over a decade after the production first came to Broadway, Doyle brought it back to the stage with a fresh look at the story. 

“The show has been completely revamped,” Eck said.

It focuses more on Celie’s life, rather than some of the other characters in the production. According to a New York Times reviewer, the original production was faithful to the novel, but it tried to pack too much into one musical. Doyle’s stripped down version is told in a more open fashion, according to Eck, and it makes the audience feel closer to the characters. 

Saturday, Oct. 7-Saturday, Oct. 14
Tickets: $20-$85

‘Fun Home: The Musical’

It’s a bildungsroman like no other. Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, the musical takes the audience through Alison’s life at three different stages, as she tries to make sense of her relationship with her father and her sexuality, among other things. 

A few Capital Region residents are already quite familiar with the show. 

Gabriella Pizzolo, a Niskayuna middle schooler, was in the Broadway production of “Fun Home” in 2015. Another young Niskayuna resident, Sofia Trimarchi, joined the touring version of the musical in 2016 and traveled across the country with the production. Neither is in the production coming to Proctors, but the show is still a local favorite.

“On the road, it’s been presented a little differently and I know it’s a personal favorite for many here,” Eck said. 

According to the Washington Post, the production is honest and refreshing. “… The musical is by no stretch a downer. Instead, it is a joyful reckoning with painful things.” 

Thursday, Oct. 31-Sunday, Nov. 5
Tickets: $20-$85

‘Finding Neverland’

No matter your age, you’ve probably yearned for the carefree innocence and safety that only seems to exist in childhood. That desire is part of what led J.M. Barrie to write “Peter Pan” in the early 1900s.  

“Finding Neverland” is the story of how Barrie came to write it — or rather, find it.

Barrie is an unhappily wed and successful playwright looking for his next great idea when he meets a widow and her children. He begins to spend more time with the children — one with the name of Peter — and with the widow, Sylvia. Soon the story of “Peter Pan” begins to emerge.

Throughout the joyous sections of the play, Sylvia coughs ominously and Barrie struggles with his marriage and with a new love.

“It’s a lovely musical and the stage magic is just incredible,” Eck said.

Tuesday, Dec. 5-Sunday, Dec. 10
Tickets: $20-$85
*Only group tickets available as of Aug. 30

‘Passport Series’

Just because summer is almost done doesn’t mean world music stops coming to Schenectady. 

“It’s an extension of the Music Haven series,” Eck said. 

The new “Passport Series” takes up where Music Haven leaves off during the colder months, delivering the same caliber of cultural music all year round. 

The first up is Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo on Oct. 19. It’s a combination of African and Venezuelan music, starring a leading voice of Afro Soul. 

The following month Alsarah and the Nubatones will be taking the stage. Alsarah, a Sudanese singer, brings retro-pop together with East-African and Arabic influences. 

Tickets: $25

One Night Only! The Cabaret Series at Proctors

 A cabaret series at a venue whose mainstage productions have included the biggest shows in modern history. Go figure. 

“We’ve made so much of what we do is based around Broadway,” Eck said. 

The series brings together a Broadway name, along with a few other famous singers to bring musical theater to the stage in a unique way. Andrea McArdle, the first to star in the Broadway musical “Annie,” starts the series off on Oct. 20. Christine Pedi follows on Dec. 2. Pedi is a multi-award winning cabaret singer whose work has appeared in “Into the Woods” and “The Sopranos,” among other shows.

Donna McKechnie, a Tony-award winning actress, performs on Jan. 27, 2018, and Karen Mason finishes off the series on March 24, 2018. Mason has spent many years on the Broadway stage and plans to tell the story of her musical history through her cabaret singing.  

Tickets: $40-$50

‘A Seat at the Table’ with Beekman 1802

The famous (and fabulous) Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell of Beekman 1802 are heading to Proctors this month for an afternoon of community and cooking. 

Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell began their lifestyle company in Sharon Springs shortly after they lost their jobs in the 2008 recession. They reconstructed their executive-level careers (Kilmer-Purcell was an advertising executive and Ridge was the vice president of Martha Stewart Omnimedia) and created a new life on their goat farm in Sharon Springs. 

The couple has since won the Amazing Race, had a reality television show called “The Fabulous Beekman Boys,” and have released four cookbooks. 

The latest, called “A Seat at the Table: Recipes to Nourish Your Family, Friends, and Community,” is what their presentation at Proctors will focus on. The book delves into the folk story of stone soup: if everyone brings a small portion to the table, the quality meal created will be greater than the sum of its portions. 

4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 17
Tickets: $20-$100

Alan Alda

From actor to PBS special director to author, Alan Alda always seems to have a lot of irons in the fire. 

The “M*A*S*H” star’s latest frontier is science. More specifically, getting people to relate to a subject that can seem complicated and cold from the outside looking in. 

Although he’s always had an interest in the subject, it wasn’t until 2003 during filming for PBS’ “Scientific American Frontier” that Alda became aware of how important a general knowledge of science is. While filming, he began experiencing severe abdominal pain. He knew immediately something was wrong with his appendix and he was rushed to a Chilean emergency room, where doctors were able to remove it quickly. 

This became the inspiration for his talk and for the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. The Center helps scientists better communicate their findings to the world, breaking down some of the scientific jargon so most people can understand the research. In his latest book, “If I Understood, Would I Have This Look on My Face?” which was released earlier this year, delves into the miscommunication between civilians and scientists. 

On Nov. 9, Alda heads to Proctors to deliver his message on “Getting Beyond a Blind Date with Science.”

8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9
Tickets: $30-$200

Joe Biden

Nearly a year after leaving the White House, former Vice President Joe Biden is slated to stop by Proctors on Nov. 20 on his “American Promise Tour.”

Schenectady is one of fewer than 20 cities across the country Biden will be visiting on the tour. Most of the other stops include larger cities such as New York City, Boston, Miami, etc. 

“It’s safe to say that he’s the most famous politician we’ve had come to Proctors,” Eck said. The event remains one of the most buzzed-about events that Proctors has announced so far this year, according to Eck. 

“It’s a different quality of feedback [than usual],” Eck said. 

Biden will discuss his 45 years of working in the political field and will discuss moments from those years that go beyond what was covered in the news or on social media. Biden is also slated to discuss the loss of his son, Beau, and finding purpose after life in the White House. 

The talk comes just six days after the scheduled release of his memoir, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose,” on Nov. 14. 

7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, 2017
Tickets: $75-$300

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