November 8, 2007

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Curtain Calls
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

• Bad break: Majestic Theatre staff had a tough few weeks. In mid-October, Manchester city inspectors said they can’t use their venue at 281 Cartier St. for shows with more than 50 people. Some grandfathered aspects of the building must now meet safety codes. Majestic canceled a weekend of community performances of The Sound of Music, then Sacred Heart Parish provided a substitute stage. The rough estimate is $15,000 for changes to things like exits and doors, said Majestic’s development director Karen Bassette. “It is our belief and ambition that these repairs will be completed for the start of our 2008 season in February. We continue to have a great working relationship with the Saint Marie Parish staff,” said artistic director A. Robert Dionne. Majestic leases Ste. Marie’s former school auditorium. The theater company has started long-range planning for their own facility. Meanwhile, Ste. Marie is renovating their church interior and eventually wants to renovate the school, according to the church. The church uses the space for smaller groups so the code problem doesn’t affect them. Making changes before creating an overall renovation plan could be costly. Majestic is calling a “Majestic Town Meeting” Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. at 281 Cartier St. Call 669-7469.

• They’re back: New Hampshire Theatre Project’s season starts Nov. 9 with Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Frank McGuinness. The play is inspired by stories of European and American civilians held hostage in Beirut for more than four years. Genevieve Aichele directs Blair Hundertmark, Peter Motson and Brian Chamberlain. From what I saw last year, these talented people push themselves, art and innovation to deliver quality work. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Nov. 25 at at W.E.S.T., 959 Islington St., Portsmouth, 431-6644, nhtheatreproject.org. Ticket costs range from $15 to $22. There’s a book discussion Sunday, Nov. 18, after the matinée comparing the play to Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto.

• A long time: Stage One Productions’ dinner theater at the Chateau, 201 Hanover St. in Manchester, has run for 26 years. Founded by producing director George F. Piehl in 1981, Stage One presented Neil Simon’s famous works, dramatic plays and musicals. They launch a new season with Weekend Comedy about two couples who end up at the same Catskills cabin mistakenly. Buffet starts at 7:30 p.m. and curtain is 8:45 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, and Saturday, Nov. 17. Brunch is at noon and curtain at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18. Dinner and show ticket costs range between $26 and $39. Call 669-5511. Triangles for Two, A Little Quickie and On Golden Pond follow January through March. 

• Kind of dirty: The “Keep Your Kids At Home” Naughty Readings is the third such Image Theatre fundraiser. The group formed to create opportunities for emerging composers, playwrights and the like. Naughty Readings features original short plays and “dirty ditties” by local composers Saturday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m. at The Old Court tavern at 29-31 Central St. in Lowell, Mass. The $25 ticket includes food. Call 978-441-0102 or see www.imagetheater.com.

• In the ring: Gene Tunney was known to read Shakespeare before fights. He credited it with his 1927 defeat of Jack Dempsey for the World Heavyweight Championship title. “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt” — Measure for Measure, Act I Scene IV — was quoted by Tunney. Tunney served in WWI, became a businessman and taught Shakespeare at Yale. It’s through a classroom that playwright David E. Lane seeks the two men in Tunney/Shakespeare in Six Rounds. Merrimack Repertory Theatre presents the world premiere Nov. 15 through Dec. 9 at 50 East Merrimack St., Lowell, Mass., 978-454-3926. Robin Phillips directs Jack Wetherall in the one-man play. Wetherall has performed on Broadway in The Elephant Man and appeared on Queer as Folk. Ticket costs range from $26 to $56. See www.merrimackrep.org.