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Curtain Call Theatre opens new venue

Curtain Call Theatre opens new venue

Carol Max opens 17th season with 'Lost in Yonkers'
Curtain Call Theatre opens new venue
Curtain Call Theatre founder and artistic producer Carol Max shows off the new technical room.
Photographer: Bill Buell

Finally, Carol Max will tell you, she has a theater venue she's totally comfortable with.

The founder and artistic producer of Curtain Call Theatre in Latham, Max will be celebrating the troupe's 25th season this month in its new home at 2 Jeanne Jugan Lane, also in Latham, with a production of Neil Simon's "Lost in Yonkers." The Dutch Reformed Church on Old Loudon Road in Latham had been CC's  home for 17 years, and before that Max produced live theater at the Temple Gates of Heaven in Niskayuna (1998-99), the Albany Marriott (1995-97) and the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs (1993-94).

"This was an opportunity that came to us at the perfect time," said Max, whose new theater, the former home to the Little Sisters of the Poor, has been vacant since 2014. "We've been listening to our patrons, and the last five or six years they've had some issues with our venue that we just couldn't fix."

Those problems, such as a small lobby and a smaller backstage area, have been erased with the move to 2 Jeanne Jugan Lane. The building is what was the sanctuary for the Little Sisters of the Poor, and while it may have been a better venue than the church without any alterations, Max and her husband Peter have been busy with a construction crew redoing all of the interior.

"We're only about a half-mile down the street from where we were and we have a bigger parking lot, we're going to be able to get people in and seated a lot quicker, and the actors are going to love the dressing rooms and the backstage atrea," said Max. "People are going to love the new theater seats and we're going to have more than one restroom. We're very excited about the new place, and I'm sure our patrons are going to love it as well."

Nan Mullenneaux, a Slingerlands native, Bethlehem Central graduate and currently a professor of gender studies and academic writing at Duke University in North Carolina, is directing her second show at Curtain Call, having done "Brighten Beach Memoirs" at the church last season.

"I love the new space because it's aesthetically beautiful and practical, and there's not a bad seat in the house," said Mullenneaux, who got her doctorate at the University of Albany. "It's a very generous theater for the patrons because in most places they really try to squeeze people in, but Carol has sacrificed some seats for comfort. And the setup for the actors is great. They're going to love it."

Mullenneaux's cast consists of Kevin Barhydt, Kathleen Carey, Carol Charniga, Micah Juman, Steve Leifer, Pam O'Connor and Kevin Zuchowski. "Lost in Yonkers" premiered on Broadway in 1991, and along with winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, it also earned four Tony Awards, including Best Play.

"Neil Simon has the ability to find humor in the everyday life of people, and it never becomes farcical," said Mullenneaux. "He also weaves it into a very compelling and dramatic family story. You're laughing in one scene and crying in the next. In my opinion, 'Lost in Yonkers' is probably his most mature work."

Along with being a director, Mullenneaux has also performed onstage at various places around the region, including Capital Rep and Theater Voices in Albany, and Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington, Vermont. She is a member of Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild, and has always had an interest in history. While working at the Saratoga Battlefield, she performed a one-woman show about Baroness Frederika Charlotte von Riedesel, the wife of the popular German General Friedrich Adolf Riedesel, who fought on the side of Great Britain during the American Revolution.

"I've always loved history, and being involved in the theater is still telling stories," said Mullenneau, who got her doctorate in history at UAlbany in 2009. "Acting has helped me overcome my general shyness. I love directing, but I still enjoy acting and plan to keep my hand in it."

'Lost in Yonkers'

WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 2 Jeanne Jugan Lane, Latham
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Oct. 7; performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
MORE INFO: www.curtaincalltheatre.com or (518) 877-7529

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