In one of her more meatier roles at Home Made Theater back in 2012, Kate Starczewski, then 25, pulled off playing a much younger Dorothy Gale in "The Wizard of Oz." In her new gig, she's going for a much more polished and professional look.
A 2005 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School who went on to major in studio art at SUNY-Geneseo, Starczewski is the new general manager at Home Made Theater, succeeding Stacie Barnes. Starczewski worked backstage on "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp" back in 1999, has performed in a variety of roles during the last 15 years, and served as Barnes' office manager for six years before leaving two years ago to work in film production. When Barnes decided in 2018 to leave Home Made after 33 years, the company asked Starczewski to come back and take over the reins.
"I missed being at Home Made, and was thrilled at the opportunity to return in a new role," said Starczewski. "As a member of the HMT family for 20 years, I was very happy to step in at the request of the board of directors when Stacie announced she was leaving."
Thursday at 6 p.m., at the Excelsior Springs Event Center in Saratoga Springs, Home Made will hold its Stacie Barnes Scholarship Kickoff Cabaret in honor of its long-time general manager, who started at Home Made in 1985 as a stage manager . A Saratoga Springs native and a graduate of Saratoga Central Catholic before heading to Marymount College in Tarrytown, Barnes became general manager in 1995.
"Stacie's dedication and passion for the theater helped transform HMT from a small group of theater-loving friends into one of the top community theaters in the state, and a thriving member of the Saratoga arts community," Starczewski said. "We truly wouldn't be who we are today without her, and we're happy to still have her around as a volunteer for many years to come."
Thursday night's event is a fundraiser to help defray the cost of tuition for Home Made's Youth Musical Theater Conservatory, held during the spring and summer. The troupe typically produces four shows each season - October through May - and will also hold a couple of special events this summer, including two performances of "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" on Aug. 4 at Caffe Lena and a junior production of "Once on This Island" on Aug. 9-10 at Saratoga Arts.
The 2019-2020 season will be Home Made's 35th, and kicking things off will be a production of "Mamma Mia!" on Oct. 12. "It's A Wonderful Life" will be the holiday show in December, while rounding out the season will be "Dial M for Murder" in February and "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" beginning in April. Starczewski's last stage performance at Home Made was a 2017 production of "Peter and the Starcatcher," and while finding the time to perform on stage might be difficult this season, she's a natural fit for the role of general manager. Her father, Kirk Starczewski, has served as director of a number of shows at Home Made, and Kate said she's always felt at home at the Spa Little Theater in Saratoga State Park, HMT's longtime home.
"Anytime my father asked me if I wanted to go with him to rehearsal I always said 'Yes,' no matter the show," remembered Starczewski. "One of my earliest memories is sitting in the front row while all the actors sat facing me on the edge of the stage. No costumes, set or props. Just actors reading from the script, which I would eventually learn was called a read through. I remember thinking, 'This is the greatest thing.'"
In December of 1999, Starczewski was just 13 when she "officially" went to work for Home Made in "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp."
"I was young but treated like an adult," said Starczewski. "While I didn't have too many responsibilities, getting the opportunity to learn what it was like to be backstage on headset meant so much to me. My most recent show, 'Peter and the Starcatcher,' is another absolute favorite of mine. While I love performing, I don't mind it taking a back seat to being general manager."
Williams' classics on display
While the Barnes Scholarship event will include some of Home Made's top performers doing songs from previous seasons, fans of Tennessee Williams will be busy as two of his American classics are opening this weekend in the Capital Region.
The Classic Theater Guild will put on a production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" beginning Thursday at Proctors' Fenimore Gallery, while at the Albany Distilling Co., the NorthEast Theatre Ensemble will stage a production of "A Streetcar Named Desire," opening Saturday.
In "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," Christina Reeves plays Maggie and Rich Sagendorf is Brick, the two characters made famous by the 1958 Hollywood movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. Glenn Read is playing Big Daddy, portrayed by Burl Ives in the film. Williams' play, first produced on Broadway in 1955, won the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
"The stage version version of 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' restores the true colors to the characters of Tennessee Williams' script in a way that the heavily censored and glamorized Hollywood film of 1958 wasn't allowed," said Peggi Perrone, who is directing the show. "We can't wait to bring this story to life."
"A Streetcar Named Desire" also won a Pulitzer, in 1948, and is generally considered Williams' best play by most critics. Krysta Dennis is directing the production, which stars Janet Hurley Kimlicko as Blanche, Erin Ouellette as Stella and James A. Wild as Stanley.
'Stacie Barnes Scholarship Cabaret'
WHAT: A fundraiser for Home Made Theater
WHERE: Excelsior Springs Event Center, 47 Excelsior Ave., Saratoga Springs
WHEN: 6-8 p.m., Thursday
HOW MUCH: $40 per person, $125 per family
MORE INFO: Visit www.homemadetheater.org, or call (518) 583-0638
'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'
WHERE: Classic Theater Guild, Fenimore Gallery at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens Thursday and runs through Sunday, June 23; performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $20-$18
MORE INFO: Visit Classic Theater Guild on Facebook or www.proctors.org
'A Streetcar Named Desire'
WHERE: NorthEast Theatre Ensemble, Albany Distilling Co., 75 Livingston Ave., Albany
WHEN: Opens Saturday and runs through July 8; performances are at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday,7 p.m. Monday; there is no Sunday, June 23 performance
HOW MUCH: $20-$12
MORE INFO: Visit www.northeasttheatreensemble.com, or call (518) 526-9170