Richard Cross may be playing the central figure in “Daddy’s Dyin’, Who’s Got the Will,” but he insists he is not the lead.
“I’m the title character, but it really is an ensemble, and I’m probably on the stage the least amount of anyone,” said Cross, who plays Buford Turnover, a stroke victim who doesn’t have long to live in Del Shores’ 1987 work being staged by the Schenectady Civic Players for the next two weekends.
“It’s mostly about the kids, the siblings, who have to deal with my character. So a lot of it is the kids talking about me, and when families get together, their histories clash because in this story we have siblings with very different personalities.”
“Daddy’s Dyin’ ” became a regional theater hit across the country after it was first produced in Hollywood, California in 1987, and in 1990 was turned into a Hollywood movie with Jeff Bridges. Gary Hoffman is directing the SCP production, and also in the cast are Joan Justice, Cara Juras, Amy LaMena, Nicolle Galligan, Michael Silvia, Shane Rowe and Katherine Stephens.
“I would call it a seriocomedy, because while there certainly are some funny moments in it, it’s not played solely for laughs,” said Cross. “It can be very funny, but there are also some traumatic moments that people will be able to relate to with their own families.”
Three new productions
‘Daddy’s Dyin’, Who’s Got the Will’
WHERE: Schenectady Civic Playhouse, 12 South Church St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens 8 p.m. Friday and runs through March 29; show times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $17
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.civicplayers.org
‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’
WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens 8 p.m. Friday and runs through March 29; show times are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $28-$22
MORE INFO: 1-877-350-7378, www.sloctheater.org
WHERE: Our Own Productions, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 63 Mountain View Ave., Albany
WHEN: Opens 8 p.m. Friday and runs through March 29; show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $15
MORE INFO: www.ourownproductions.com
A Rochester native and Guilderland resident, Cross has played a number of colorful characters in his stage career, including Captain Morton in “Mister Roberts,” and another daddy, “Big Daddy,” in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
“I don’t think of myself as a grumpy old man, but I guess once you reach a certain age you get cast in a certain way,” he said, laughing. “But I don’t mind playing these roles. In this show my character kind of drifts in and out. You look for roles that interest you, and this character still has some color to him in his lucid moments. It’s enjoyable playing him.”
Also opening Friday night are “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” at the Schenectady Light Opera Company and “The Marvelous Wonderettes” at Our Savior’s Church in Albany, staged by Our Own Productions.
“Smokey Joe’s Cafe” is a musical revue showcasing 39 classic American standards. The SLOC production is being directed by Jahmere Holland, with Brandon Jones serving as musical director. It stars Dashira Cortes, Christine Meglino, Jennifer Lefsyk, Amanda Jo Wilsey, Nik Gatzendorfer, Daryl Hirschfeld, Joshua Powell, Michael Mensching and David Izzo Jr.
“The Marvelous Wonderettes,” set in 1958 at a high-school dance and then 10 years later at a class reunion, tells the story of four young female singers, three who stayed home and one who went on to stardom. Susan Eliaschuk is the director and Frank Leavitt is musical director. Dianne DeSantis, Eric Buda Doran, Brittany Glenn and Alana Streifert make up the cast.