April 26, 2007

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Still going strong
Patriarchs of community theater stage modern take on mythology, and classic American musical
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Ode to the prairie

Nashua’s 52-year-old community theater company, Actorsingers, is bringing back its old favorite, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! Actorsingers produced the show in 1990 and 1973. A villain named Jud (Tom Ritrovato) comes between a cowhand, Curly (Michael Coppola), and farm girl Laurey (Mandy O’Neil) in a turn-of-the-20th-century Midwest territory. Laurey’s friend Ado Annie (Rachel Scott) sings about the attentions of traveling salesman Ali Hakim (Gary Vago) and cowhand Will (Thomas Caron) in “I Cain’t Say No.” Ballet, comedy and a murder are rolled into this 1943 show. Oklahoma! was the first musical to use song and dance to drive the story.

“We try to do something old and something new every year,” Kathy Lovering of Actorsingers said. The group’s fall performance of Evita was heavy with historical and political themes. Oklahoma! lets actors and audience just have fun with the show — plus, with “this one you can follow the plot,” Lovering said. Coincidently, they’ve learned 2007 is Oklahoma’s 100th anniversary of statehood.

New to Actorsingers, Dan Barth directs a cast of about 36. Music direction is by Peter Bonaccorsi and choral direction is by Henry Kopczynskie. Jessica Scalese choreographs.

To get in the mood, check out Hugh Jackman, (yes, Wolverine) as Curley in the 1999 PBS Great Performances DVD. Actorsingers presents Oklahoma! Friday, May 4, at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 5, at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 6, at 2 p.m. at Keefe Auditorium at Lake and Elm streets in Nashua. Ticket costs range from $10 to $15. Call 320-1870 or visit actorsingers.org.

Same stories, different time
Hopkinton Equity actor Kevin Gardner left the Concord Community Players in the 1970s. But he’s finally found the right time and show to direct for the 79-year-old theater group in which his late parents were deeply involved. Gardner proposed the straight play, Metamorphoses, which will run May 3 through May 5.

Modern and ancient are mixed in Metamorphoses, which opened on Broadway in 2002. Mary Zimmerman’s script is contemporary but based on mythology from Roman poet Ovid.

“I think it’s mysterious to people, because I don’t think that Ovid is on everyone’s reading list,” Gardner said. Yet the stories, such as those of Narcissus and King Midas, are familiar to Westerners.

The god Apollo is a “classic absentee father” in this play, who reluctantly allows his son Phaeton to drive his chariot of the sun. Phaeton “immediately crashes the chariot into Earth and destroys all humanity,” Gardner said. The audience learns the story as Phaeton tells it to his therapist after the event. Throughout the session, the therapist addresses the audience analyzing Phaeton with psychological jargon. Zimmerman is subtle, but sends up the father and son’s relationship and modern psychology at the same time.

While “things don’t always happen in real time” and some of the action is abstract, “I think the impression it makes is one of simplicity, not complexity,” Gardner said of the play.

Gardner also composed and recorded an original score, “frankly because I love doing scores for plays,” and to tailor the music for this staging, he said. He’s recorded a mixture of ancient and modern sounds, mainly percussion and flute. He recorded all parts, except for some violin and mandolin from his niece.

Gardner said he’s been “enormously impressed” with the cast’s performance so far. Gardner has acted professionally since the late 1960s, mostly in small New England theaters. He switched focus to teaching and directing in the 1990s at Saint Paul School, Manchester Institute of Arts and Science (the precursor to NH Institute of Art) and Plymouth State.

Metamorpheses runs Thursday, May 3, through Saturday, May 5, at 8 p.m. at the Concord City Auditorium, 2 Prince St. Ticket costs range from $12 to $15. Call 228-2793 or visit communityplayersofconcord.org.


4/19/2007 Vietnam the the Palace

4/12/2007 Confluence
4/5/2007 First look
3/29/2007 Reluctant star
3/15/2007 In a town far away
3/8/2007 Curtain calls
3/1/2007 Into the future
2/22/2007 But will it play in New Hampshire
2/15/2007 Curtain calls
2/8/2007 Family affair
2/1/2007 Curtain calls
1/25/2007 Curtain calls
1/18/2007 Curtain calls
1/11/2007 Curtain calls
1/4/2007 Fork in the road
12/28/2006 Standout performances of '06
12/21/2006 Curtain Calls
12/14/2006 Players remember Peter Bridges
12/07/2006 Young talent
11/30/2006 Lighthearted farce for the holidays
11/23/2006 Curtain Calls
11/16/2006 Good theater
11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
10/26/2006 Aida on a Nashua stage
10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
10/12/2006 A true love triangle
10/05/2006 Curtain Calls
09/28/2006 Bringing people back to life
09/21/2006 Getting judged
09/14/2006 Long strange journey
09/07/2006 Curtain Calls
08/31/2006 Curtain Calls
08/24/2006 Putting kids in charge
08/17/2006 Curtain Calls
08/10/2006 All theater, all summer
08/03/2006 A Jesus musical, reworked
07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
07/20/2006 Variations on a theme
07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
07/06/2006 Serious theater
06/29/2006 L.A. in Peterborough
06/22/2006 Da Vinci to Rube Goldberg
06/15/2006 Peter Bridges remembered
06/08/2006 From Hairspray to monkeys
06/01/2006 Special Theatrics
05/25/2006 Live Brit-com
05/18/2006 Evil stepsisters earn the yuks
05/11/2006 A message to mom
05/04/2006 Meet the cast
04/27/2006 'I hope i get it'
04/20/2006 Find yourself in Yonkers
04/13/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
04/06/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
03/30/2006 Cabaret is Mnchester bound
03/23/2006 A 42nd Street detour
03/16/2006 Actor-director wants your ideas
02/23/2006 Yellow Taxi's Theater Festival opens March 1
02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
10th anniversary at Capitol Center
10 Ways To Survive The Audition
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
A tale of two wives
A Tribute To Music
Actorsingers Deliver On Superstar
Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Off-Broadway Gets Spooky
Being The Beatles, 1964 The Tribute
Bringing NYC to Wilton
Creating the venue from antiques
Crimes Of The Heart
Curtain to rise on Dana Center
Dana Center Takes Center Stage
Ensemble elevates Palace’s Godspell
From stage to the silver screen
Great play, too bad it’s over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
It’s cabaret, hear it sing, joke, tease
It's Child's Play
Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesn’t lose his head
Lowell theater opens with a winner of a satire
Madco welcomes Boston actor-director
Meet John Sefel, Director
Meet Suzanne Delle, Yellow Taxi’s driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Players’ Solidarity is solid gold
Plaid
Plaid (II)
Playing with man’s best friend
Proud of the Peacock
Racy, crazy blast at the Palace
Reviving His Passion
Robert Dionne, The man behind the Majestic
Rosemary Dann
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
Short-Attention Span Theater
Side Show
Sideshow slips sideways
Spending The Summer On Stage
Stages of learning
Steel Magnolias
Suessical: The Musical
Theater Of The Imagination
Theater Kids Without A School
Theater in the park draws big
The Drawer Boy
The Festival
The Five best shows of 2005
The Prisoner Of Second Avenue
The Russian/American Kids Circus
The Senator Wore Pantyhose
The Tony Awards, they're grrrrreat
The Warmth Of The Cold
Three nights, three shows at the Palace
Tosca

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother