By Patrick White
InPlay Capital Region
In the past week, there has been an extraordinary confluence of great news in Capital Region theater -- almost enough to make you shrug off the national catastrophe that’s going on.
Playhouse Stage Company -- the newly christened Park Playhouse -- has taken on a big gamble with its host theater, Cohoes Music Hall, and has scheduled two bio-musicals in rotating rep for the month with one of them, with “Jerry Lee Lewis Versus Jerry Lee Lewis” being a world premiere. The other musical, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” had a superlative performance by Gina Simone Pemberton, who garnered nothing but raves for an astonishing performance that only got better when the songs were the iconic “Strange Fruit” and “God Bless the Child.”
There also was a sensational homegrown performance by Angelique Powell as
the hotel maid at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on the evening of April 3, 1968. “The Mountaintop” played for one weekend only at the Linda in Albany with a rickety set, but the performance still was one for the ages. So quick, vivacious and powerful was her performance that the few hundred people who caught it were lucky indeed and basked in Angelique’s laughter, which pealed to the heavens.
In other news, the Schenectady Civic Players had a door-busting audition for their May production of “The Cake.” Over 50 actors performed sides for the opportunity of joining first-time director Sara Paupini and her production of this Capital Region premiere. The cast is Josephine O’Connor as Della, David Orr as Tim, Elizabeth Sherwood Mack as Jen, and Angelique Powell as Macy. The production runs May 8-17.
We’re in the height of high school musical season, and Kevin O’Toole has put together a great list on the Channel 10 website with over 40 productions listed, including five “Chicagos.” Please help Ward Dales say goodbye to the Albany High School Theater Ensemble with his valedictory production of “Cabaret” this Thursday through Sunday (March 12-15).
Proctors and Albany’s Capital Repertory Theatre announced their 2020-21 seasons at The Bash, their annual party on the mainstage, earlier this month, with the biggest responses in the audience going to the musical “Mean Girls” and “The True,” Sharr White’s imagining of Erastus Corning II facing his 1977 primary challenge with his confidante Polly Noonan.
Most local theater companies have announced their season, and there are over 25 Capital Region premieres so far. The Troy Civic Theatre announced a pleasingly inclusive “Spring Awakening” cast directed by Francesco Archina and running May 8-17. Other recent inclusively cast productions are “The Cake,” Classic Theatre Guild’s “Crimes of the Heart,” and Curtain Call’s “An Act of God.”
Finally, in real estate news, the Troy Foundry Theatre has found a home. The group will take up residency in the Trojan Hotel under the artistic direction of David Girard and use the space for administrative needs, their Dark Day Monday readings and possibly future productions as they did this past fall with “Yellow.” It’s always especially great to have a new theater space in the Capital Region.
So there were new, extraordinary performances, shows announced, inclusive casting and a performance space. A very good week in the Capital Region theater indeed.
Onward and upward!
Gina Simone Pemberton in ‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.' Photo by Richard Ruotolo.