Zoom-ing was great fun, and coming up with unique ways to create entertainment was an exciting challenge. Still, it wasn’t real theater.
“Theater is an art form, named after the building in which it is housed,” said Patrick White, who will be directing the Curtain Call Theatre production of “An Act of God,” opening on July 22 and running through Aug. 14. “Theater is about being in the room. When something is ripped away from you and you’re stuck at home, watching performances online is great. But it’s not the same as live theater.”
The return of in-house, live theater in the Capital Region heats up over the last half of July as three other venues, The Theater Barn in Lebanon, the Adirondack Theatre Festival in Glens Falls and Home Made Theater in Saratoga Springs will all join Curtain Call in putting on productions in front of an audience this month.
White, a familiar face to Capital Region theater fans both as a director and an actor, was originally supposed to direct “An Act of God” at Curtain Call last year before the COVID-19 Pandemic stopped everything in its path.
“We were all set to do it last year, and I’m happy to say we got the three actors back to do it this year,” said White. “It’s about God wanting to clear things up because he felt America hadn’t gotten a few things right. We got confused, and while it was written before the pandemic, it’s very relevant to what’s been going on. It’s God coming down with a new set of 10 Commandments and it is hilarious.”
Bill Shein, who was performing on a regular basis at the Ghent Playhouse down in Columbia County, is playing God in the Curtain Call production of “An Act of God,” and with him on stage playing Michael and Gabriel (two angels) are Scott Wasser of Schenectady and Richard Marshall of Albany.
“All three of our actors have never performed at Curtain Call before,” said Curtain Call founder and artistic director Carol Max. “After 30 years we’re still putting new faces on our stage, and I’m very happy to have Bill Shein playing God. He’s very easy to work with and the kind of guy you want to have at the theater. He’s a very good actor.”
“An Act of God” was written by former “The Daily Show” writer David Javerbaum, whose long career in television has earned him 13 Emmy Awards. His play opened on Broadway in May of 2015 to generally good reviews with Jim Parsons playing the lead.
“We saw it down in New York, and it’s Javerbaum’s comic take on how some people can be awfully silly about religion,” said White. “He does a great job of channeling God, and he also allows us to go ahead and update it if we want to. But it’s so well written we only felt the need to add one line.”
At The Theater Barn in New Lebanon, “Agatha Christie’s The Stranger” will open its summer season tonight (Thursday) at 8 p.m. Based on Christie’s short story from 1924, “Philomel Cottage,” the play centers around the main character of Enid and her trials and tribulations revolving around the prospect of marriage.
Cara Moretto and Matthew Tyler share the stage in the two lead roles. John Trainer is directing the show, adapted by Frank Vosper and first produced in London’s West End in 1936. The Theater Barn production will run through July 25.
“Night and Day,” with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, will be the Barn’s second production of the season and run from Aug. 5-Aug. 15.
In Glens Falls, ATF co-founder Martha Banta has returned as interim artistic director to lead the group’s 2021 summer season.
The troupe’s first mainstage show of the season will be “Slow Food,” a comedy by Wendy MacLeod and directed by Banta, a Lake George native who founded ATF back in 1993 with her husband David Turner. “”Slow Food,” which tells the story of a married couple celebrating their anniversary at a Greek restaurant in Palm Springs, will open next Tuesday (July 20) and run through July 31.
Two-time Tony Award nominee Johanna Day leads the cast along with Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Dave Beach, two actors who also have Broadway credits on their resume.
ATF’s second mainstage show of the season will be “Traffic and Weather,” running from Aug 5-14.
Also included in the season will be a staged reading of “Minding Miss Mae Mae” July 25-26 and a children’s play by Shubert Fendrich, “Cinderella Goes Disco,” running July 22-30.
Home Made Theater, meanwhile, which usually performs at the Spa Little Theater in Saratoga State Park, will take a production of “New Jerusalem,” by David Ives, on the road to Congregation Shaara Tfille in Saratoga Springs and Congregation Beth Shalom in Clifton Park on July 25 and Aug. 1, respectively.
Set in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in the 17th century, the play tells the story of Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.
It premiered in January of 2008 at the Classic Stage Company in New York City. Dianne O’Neill is directing the production, which stars Jonathan Hefter as Spinosa.
‘An Act of God’
CURTAIN CALL THEATRE
WHEN: July 22-Aug. 14
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 1 Jeanne Jugan Lane, Latham
MORE INFO: Visit www.curtaincalltheatre.com
ADIRONDACK THEATRE FESTIVAL
WHEN: July 20-31
WHERE: Adirondack Theatre Festival, 50 Elm St., Glens Falls
MORE INFO: Visit www.atfestival.org
‘Agatha Christie’s The Stranger’
THE THEATER BARN
WHEN: July 15-July 25
WHERE: The Theater Barn, 654 Route 20, New Lebanon
MORE INFO: Visit www.thetheaterbarn.org
HOME MADE THEATER
WHEN: July 25 and Aug. 1 (two performances each day)
WHERE: Congregation Shaara Tfille in Saratoga Springs (July25) and Congregation Beth Shalom in Clifton Park (Aug. 1).
MORE INFO: Visit www.homemadetheater.org for more information.
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