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Schenectady Civic Players feeling the hurt

Schenectady Civic Players feeling the hurt

Cristine M. Loffredo was set to direct her first mainstage production at the North Church Street venue; it will have to wait
Schenectady Civic Players feeling the hurt
Jenn Moak Patti Noble, left, and Joanne Westervelt rehearse a scene from “This Random World" last month.
Photographer: jenn moak

Joanne Westervelt can't get "This Random World" out of her head.

"I'm still reciting the lines in my head before I go to sleep each night," said Westervelt, a cast member in Stephen Dietz's 2016 work that was to have opened Friday night at the Schenectady Civic Playhouse. "It's such a great little show. It's tough to wind down from something like this."

The Schenectady Civic Players' production, like so many other shows throughout the country, was cancelled late last week due to concerns over the coronavirus. The show will go on, but most likely not until October at Schenectady Civic, and that was a bitter pill for cast and crew to swallow, in particular Cristine M. Loffredo who was directing her first mainstage production at the North Church Street venue.

A board member for the Schenectady Civic Players, Loffredo voted to cancel the show at an emergency meeting last Friday night.

"I've had this hanging over my head for two weeks now, and I honestly started crying at the board meeting," said Loffredo, one of the Capital Region's busiest actresses. "We voted, I voted for it as well knowing the result, but it was something we had to do."

Loffredo, a regular performer at SCP and Curtain Call Theatre in Latham, had been enjoying her transition from actor to director.

"This whole process for me started about a year ago when I got the play selection," said Loffredo. "I started getting my team together, my set designer, lighting designer, props, my stage manager, my assistant director. It was all very time-consuming, but I got everybody on board and everything was really coming together."

Auditions were held in early January and by the end of the month the cast was doing read-throughs. Rehearsals officially started in February.

"We were so excited about tech week starting, and we had really put our heart and soul into this show," said Westervelt, who was first on the Schenectady Civic Playhouse stage back in 1969. "I never had this kind of thing happened before, so it's hard."

"This Random World" opened to rave reviews at the 2016 Humana Festival of New Plays in Louisville, Kentucky.

"It's about missed connections, and it's humorous and heartbreaking," said Westervelt. "It hasn't been done around here, and I think it's very important for us to see if we can reschedule it. It's an important play for us."

Schenectady Civic has to again go through the process of securing the rights to do the play in October from Dramatists Play Service, and Loffredo is hoping that won't be a problem.

"This is a beautiful show that needs to be seen, and we've already asked them to reserve our rights," she said. "Someone suggested maybe we could do it in May, but I didn't want to risk going through this again. Who knows what the situation will be like in May, and God forbid anything should happen to our cast and crew or our subscribers. Moving it to October was the best thing to do."

At Home Made Theater in Saratoga Springs, general manager Eric Rudy announced that the rest of the season has been cancelled. It includes "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," originally scheduled to open March 14.







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