The Local Actors Guild of Saratoga needed a stage, and the Schenectady Civic Players felt like the theater community needed some live entertainment.
As a result, LAGS founder Jeremy Buechner has a venue for his troupe’s three-day run of “The Guys” this weekend at the Schenectady Civic Playhouse. One of the oldest community theaters in the country and home to the Schenectady Civic Players, the historic theater will host the 2001 Anne Nelson play, about the aftermath of 9/11, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
“They actually knew we had lost our theater because of COVID, so they reached out to me,” said Buechner, who is directing the production and also starring in the show with Mary Darcy. “It really worked out well. It’s a great theater and it fits the show perfectly.”
Nelson wrote the play in less than two weeks after terrorists struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Two huge names in the show business industry, Sigourney Weaver and Bill Murray, starred in the two-person show, less than two months after the attack, and performed it scripts in hand at The Flea Theater in the TriBeCa section of New York City.
The show centers around a New York Fire Department captain named Nick, played by Buechner, and an editor named Joan, played by Darcy, who helps Nick prepare eulogies for eight firefighters who died under his command responding to the terrorist attack.
“This play for me is is about reopening,” said Buechner, who created LAGS back in 2004. “The play was written to help bring people back to the theater and begin to return to normal, so it’s appropriate that it should help reopen theaters in the aftermath of COVID-19.”
Darcy, a former Saratoga County resident who now splits time between Albany and New York City, agrees.
“This is the right time to revive this play,” said Darcy, who has been on stage with LAGS in the past and has also performed at Curtain Call Theatre in Latham and MOPCO in Schenectady. “Not just because it’s the anniversary of 9/11, but because it directly speaks to recovering from great tragedy. There are lines that could have been written yesterday; about wanting to help but not having skills, about needing each other, about when and how you return to normal.”
Darcy as well as Buechner have performed in the play before.
“It’s about the authentic human connection in the aftermath of great tragedy,” said Darcy. “It’s something we saw 20 years ago and something we’re seeing again today.”
It’s a production Buechner and Darcy started thinking about earlier this year.
“We had both done stage readings of the show,” said Buechner. “We’ve worked together before a number of times, so we thought, ‘why not do this in September because it will be falling on the 20th anniversary.’ Fortunately everything aligned up just right and Schenectady Civic really opened their arms to us.”
LAGS had been performing about three shows a season, all at the Saratoga Arts Center. But when COVID took away that venue, Buechner was very happy to get a call from Duncan Morrison, then president of the Schenectady Civic Players.
“Coming out of the COVID closure, we felt that helping another company of artists return to the stage would benefit the entire Capital District theater community,” said Morrison.
Buechner he isn’t sure what the future holds for LAGS.
“This is our first partnership with Schenectady Civic, who we’re hoping everything works out fine and maybe we can do another show in the spring,” he said. “We’re also hoping we can do another show this season at some location in Saratoga Springs. We’re still trying to figure it all out.”
Melissa Putterman Hoffman and Gary Hoffman are serving as assistant directors for the production, while Amanda Lupe is the stage manager.
Audience members must wear masks and are required to show proof that they have been vaccinated.
The Schenectady Civic Players will officially open their own season on Nov. 12 with a production of “This Random World,” written by Steven Dietz. Cristine M. Loffredo will direct the show. It runs through Nov. 21.
New at The Theater Barn
Opening Thursday (tonight) at 8 p.m.and running through Sept. 19 at The Theater Barn in New Lebanon will be a production of “Good People,” starring Lisa Franklin, Kathleen Carey and Angela Potrikus. Phil Rice is directing.
WHAT: A production of Anne Nelson’s 2001 play by the Local Actors Guild of Saratoga
WHERE: Schenectady Civic Playhouse, 12 South Church St., Schenectady
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $20
MORE INFO: Visit www.civicplayers.org or call (518) 382-2917
WHERE: The Theater Barn, 654 Route 20, New Lebanon
WHEN: Thursday (tonight) through Sept. 19; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $33-$30
MORE INFO: Visit www.theaterbarn.com