Rachael Sheffer enjoys directing the kind of stories that aren't told very often, and in 2016's "Kalamazoo," by Michelle Kholos Brooks and Kelly Younger, she's found exactly what she wants.
"You don't hear stories, especially on the stage, about finding love at an older age," said Sheffer, who will be directing the Curtain Call Theatre production of "Kalamazoo" opening Friday night and running through Aug. 4. "You don't see these kind of stories frequently, and I think it's a subject that should be explored more."
To do that, Sheffer has two of the most respected actors in the Capital Region theater community, Barbara Richards and Jack Fallon. Richards plays a 70-year-old Irish Catholic woman who meets Fallon's character, a 70-year-old Jewish man, on line, and the two go out on their first date. While these two opposites are attracted to each other, there are some issues, making this second act quite problematic and comedic. The play premiered in Bloomington, Indiana in 2016 and won the Riva Shiner Comedy Award.
"It's not two hours of their first date," explained Sheffer, a Corinth High School graduate who went on to Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and now lives in Schenectady. "The show opens with both of of them on stage as they are composing their on line dating profiles. They're talking, but not to each other. But then the story moves on and it's about five or six snapshots of their relationship. It's just the two characters, Peg and Irv, on stage."
This isn't the first time Fallon and Richards have been paired as romantic partners in a play. They shared the stage at Curtain Call back in 2013 in "One Slight Hitch," and played man and wife in 2012's "Lend Me a Tenor," also at Curtain Call. Most recently, Fallon was in "The Legend of Georgia McBride" in 2017 and "Out of Order" in 2016, both at Curtain Call. Richards, also a Curtain Call regular, was in "Love, Loss and What I Wore" in 2016 and "The Commons of Pensacola" in 2015.
"There's a lot of freedom in their physicality and their mental expansion about these characters," Sheffer said of Fallon and Richards. "They are both well-suited in what they have to do, but they also, as actors, can make changes in themselves to fully interpret and realize these characters. They've both been very open to discussion about their characters and how to best work together to tell the story. It's been great working with them."
Curtain Call Theatre founder and artistic director Carol Max hand-picked both Fallon and Richards to make up the two-person cast.
Sheffer, a long-time stage manager in the Capital Region, directed her first show for the Classic Theater Guild, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," back in 2009. She also directed "Julius Caesar" for CTG in 2013 and "Sweeney Todd" for the Schenectady Light Opera Company in 2016. In 2017 she was in charge of the production of "Skin Deep" at Curtain Call, and earlier this year directed "A Shot in the Dark" at Albany Civic Theater.
Frank Oliva is the scenic designer for "Kalamazoo," while Lily Fossner is the lighting director and Lawrence Schrober the sound designer. Rebecca Gardner is the stage manager.
'Our Time' at Fort Salem Theater
Ken Levine, an Emmy Award-winning writer who worked on shows such as "M*A*S*H" and "Cheers," is having his newest work, "Our Time" produced for just the second time by Fort Salem Theater. The show opens Friday and runs in repertory throughout the summer.
David Braucher is directing the show, which stars Alex Ashby as a female comedy writer in Hollywood in 1975. With her on stage are Matt DeMarco, Tommy Swimm and Cameron Fredericksen.
"Our Time" had its world premiere last fall in Saratoga Springs as part of the New Plays Festival put on by the Local Actor's Guild. Braucher, who has worked at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge and Curtain Call Theatre in Latham, also directed the earlier production.
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 1 Jeanne Jugan Lane, Latham
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Aug. 4; performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $25
MORE INFO: (518) 877-7529, www.curtaincalltheatre.com
WHERE: Fort Salem Theater, 11 East Broadway, Salem
WHEN: Opens Friday, and runs through July 21; performances are at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; no performances July 1, July 6, and July 13 through 15
HOW MUCH: $15 - $30
MORE INFO: (518) 854-9200, (518) 877-7529, www.fortsalemtheater.com