November 5, 2009

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Coming up
Dinner and a comedy, Cole Porter at sea, and an Irish-inspired musical

By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Chance meeting
“Baggage is about two obnoxious people who get their luggage mixed up at the airport and subsequently meet to exchange their bags,” said George Piehl. He’s directing and acting in StageOne Productions’ upcoming staging of the comedy.

Bradley’s wife has left him and Phyllis can’t stay stay in a relationship because she always finds something wrong with whomever she’s with. Of course, they can’t stand each other, which means naturally they fall in love, Piehl said. Oh, and a psychologist just happens to be in the theater who pops in to explain things.

The 2005 play is by Sam Bobrick, who usually writes in a team. His plays include Are You Sure? and Norman, Is that You? with Ron Clark. The StageOne performances of Baggage feature Eric Skoglund and Jannel Ouellette, who has been performing with StageOne for about 20 years, Peihl said. Peihl was most recently seen acting with Sally Struthers in All Shook Up at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine.

Baggage launches StageOne’s latest season of dinner theater with shows Friday, Nov. 13, and Saturday, Nov. 14 (doors open at 7 p.m.), and Sunday, Nov. 15 (doors open at 11:30 a.m.), at the Chateau Restaurant, 201 Hanover St. in Manchester. They can seat about 275 people. Tickets, which include buffet dinner or brunch with coffee and dessert, must be purchased in advance, and range from $26 to $40. Call 669-5511 for tickets, or visit www.stageoneproductions.net for more information.

Dublin, 1964 – with music
A Man of No Importance is a departure for Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the music and lyrics team behind Ragtime, Seussical, Once on the Island and a few Schoolhouse Rock jingles, said Chris Courage, Acting Loft artistic director.

Flaherty wanted to do a chamber piece set in another country, Courage said. Set in 1964 Dublin and based on a 1994 film by Albert Finney, the musical A Man of No Importance uses an ensemble of Irish-sounding instruments, a small cast that is on stage most of the time as a Greek chorus, and limited scenery, Courage said.

Bus conductor Alfie Byrne is an innocent who’s gone from living with his parents to living with his sister after their death. Byrne’s outlet is a church theater group. He reads a lot and has a fascination with Oscar Wilde, Courage said.

Throughout the show, Byrne is realizing his orientation, and when he becomes the victim of gay-bashing, his innocence is shattered yet he “realizes he’s going to continue to function in the world,” Courage said.

It’s not all heavy stuff. The audience spends a lot of time watching Byrne direct his community theater group — full of terrible actors who think they are wonderful. The book is by Terrence McNally. Cast member Jim O’Connell, originally from Ireland, has helped the cast with dialect and understanding 1964 Dublin. “Pretty much all art and culture was controlled by the Catholic Church” at the time, Courage said. Acting Loft education director Kirstin Kennedy is using the international phonetic alphabet to help the actors achieve a realistic Irish accent, Courage said.

Another challenge is that the audience starts watching the show at the end — how Byrne gets to that point is shown through a series of flashbacks.

Courage said his goal at the Acting Loft has been to bring shows that haven’t been performed in New Hampshire before, which includes a musical version of Wuthering Heights. This will be the first time A Man of No Importance is staged in New Hampshire, Courage said. He’s never actually seen it. It ran off-Broadway in 2002. Directing a show he hasn’t seen is both challenging and freeing, he said — there’s “no preconception of who these characters are or how they should be played.”

The Acting Loft had plans to build out the former church they work out of into a venue, but the project has been put on hold because of the economic climate, Courage said. However, much of A Man of No Importance takes place in a church basement — which is where Acting Loft currently performs, so “it’s almost environmental theater,” Courage said.

Actors include Katie Goodman, Jeff Caron, Nathan Barnes, Sue Bechard, Nick Gehling, Jennifer Fichera, Deb Doda, Julie-Ann Whitney, Toby Paul, Ashley St. Martin, Lee Preczewski, Ron Dieter, Kelly Collins, Jim O’Connell, Tommy Morrissette and Mary-Kate Lang. Joel Mercier musically directs.

A Man of No Importance plays Friday, Nov. 13, and Saturday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 15, at 2 p.m., at the Acting Loft Studio Theatre, 516 Pine St. in Manchester (666-5999, actingloft.org). Tickets cost $10 for students and $15 for adults.

It’s DeLovely
Producer Beth Fenske said it wasn’t until after Actorsingers chose the 1934 Cole Porter classic Anything Goes for their fall production that they realized they had performed it every 20 years since 1969.

People involved in both the 1989 and 1969 productions are back for 2009. “There are so many theater groups popping up — we think that’s great ... I say the more live theater the better,” Fenske said. She also thinks that underscores how unique it is Actorsingers has generated loyalty that brings people back after 40 years. The Nashua group is in its 55th year. 

The play has “very much a sound and a feel of the Big Band era,” director Dana Bissett-Siegal said. Actorsingers chose the 1962 revival script. It’s corny, but the music is closer to that Big Band sound than the latest one, she said. The New London Playhouse recently performed the 1989 version, which is very different, Fenske said.

A young ingénue is sailing to London with her mother in the 1930s to be married to an older British gentleman, who is also on the ship. It’s a match for money, but Billy, a young man Hope met months earlier, happens to be on board, too. “For some ridiculous reason totally unexplained,” gangsters are also on board, and Moonface Martin and Billy become “in cahoots” to break up the impending marriage, Bissett-Siegal said.

Meanwhile, post-evangelical nightclub singer Reno enters the picture. Musicians are on stage as the ship’s nightclub band, rather than in the orchestra pit. Songs include “Anything Goes” and “DeLovely.” 

Basically there’s a lot of fun and funny scenes between Cole Porter songs, Fenske said.

“This particular cast is uniquely gifted in the comedic realm,” Bissett-Siegal said. The ship’s crew and passengers have been “encouraged to create really personal stories for why they’re sailing on this ship, and … to play out those stories,” Bissett-Siegal said.

Fenske, who has been with Actorsingers since 1991, thinks the directing team was a draw. Bisett-Seigal and choreographer Martha Daniels Holland won best director and choreographer New Hampshire Theatre Awards for a community musical, respectively, for staging 42nd Street with Actorsingers in 2005. 42nd Street also won best community musical production. They’d been looking for an opportunity to work together again and bring in Jed Holland as musical director, Daniels Holland’s husband.

“They have a real reputation for quality shows...and everybody has fun,” Fenske said. For Fenske, fun is key, since everyone is volunteering.

Bissett-Siegal’s husband, Ed Siegal, is acting. Bissett-Siegal said for couples, working on the same show “makes home life a little bit saner.”

Actorsingers presents Anything Goes Friday, Nov. 13, and Saturday, Nov. 14, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 15, at 2 p.m. at the Keefe Auditorium at Elm Street Middle School, 117 Elm St. in Nashua (320-1870, www.actorsingers.org). Tickets cost $18.


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10/22/2009 Stephen Schwartz comes to Stockbridge
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10/8/2009 Return to Laramie
10/01/2009 Page to stage returns
9/24/2009 Curtain calls
9/17/2009 World War II and hair salon
9/10/2009 Curtain calls
9/3/2009 Curtain calls
8/27/2009 Curtain calls
8/20/2009 Letter from backstage
8/13/2009 Curtain calls
8/6/2009 Curtain calls
7/30/2009 Finding direction
7/23/2009 Theater on the grass
7/16/2009 Germany, France and England
7/9/2009 The Bard and Disney!
7/02/2009 Robots!
6/25/2009 Curtain calls
6/18/2009 Altered souls
6/11/2009 Curtain calls
6/4/2009 Curtain calls
5/28/2009 This one time at theater camp ...
5/21/2009 Curtain calls
5/14/2009 Curtain calls
5/7/2009 Review:Actorsingers produces The Producers
4/30/2009 Journey to and through Motherhood
4/23/2009 Concord does the Full Monty
4/16/2009 Courtroom drama
4/9/2009 Scotland- bound
4/2/2009 Curtain calls
3/26/2009 The original sitcom
3/19/2009 Palace to produce The Producers
3/12/2009 British farce and new romantic comedy
3/5/2009 Curtain calls
2/26/2009 Serious stories
2/19/2009 Curtain calls
2/12/2009 On Golden Pond writer honored
2/5/2009 Divorce and death
1/29/2009 Red carpet?
1/22/2009 Curtain calls
1/15/2009 Money, powqer and family
1/8/2009 Offer your two cents
1/1/2009 Tapping into the spotlight
12/25/2008 Curtain calls
12/18/2008 BIg things that come in envelopes
12/11/2008 Curtiain calls
12/04/2008 Remains of an affair
11/27/2008 Ballet — not for the faint of heart
11/20/2008 Mary's new home
11/13/2008 Company, Secret garden and Doubt
11/6/2008 That Broadway sound
10/30/2008 Curtain calls
10/23/2008 Busy theaters
10/16/2008 All in one weekend
10/9/2008 Merrimack Rep at 20
10/2/2008 Curtain calls
9/25/2008 Curtain calls
9/18/2008 Stage sports
9/11/2008 Second Life to the rescue
9/4/2008 Curtain calls
8/28/2008 Tennessee Williams at Weirs
8/21/2008 Change for the moment
8/14/2008 Curtain calls
8/7/2008 Wicked experience
7/31/2008 Merry tales
7/24/2008 Review: the great outdoors
7/17/2008 Curtain calls
7/10/2008 Musical monsters
7/3/2008 Curtain calls
6/26/2008 Curtain calls
6/19/2008 Summer stock
6/12/2008 Curtain calls
6/5/2008 This one time, at drama camp...
5/29/2008 Curtain calls
5/22/2008 Making it big
5/15/2008 Curtain calls
5/8/2008 Curtain calls
5/1/2008 Forging ahead
4/24/2008 The Bard, condensed
4/17/2008 'Balance' in Bedford
4/10/2008 Curtain calls
4/3/2008 Singing for a cause
3/27/2008 These aren't recitals folks
3/20/2008 Albee at MRT
3/13/2008 Murder and rhinos
3/6/2008 Murder and rhinos
2/28/2008 The art of theater criticism
2/21/2008 Breaking the cycle
2/14/2008 Curtain Calls
2/7/2008 NH Theatre awards sixth year
1/31/2008 Elvis fans and ghost stories
1/24/2008 Building an audience
1/17/2008 Curtain Calls
1/10/2008 Fate of Annicchiarico
1/3/2008 A little confidence
12/27/2007 Stage notables in 2007
12/20/2007 If all they want for Christmas is two good seats ...
12/13/2007 Summer stock vs. southern NH
12/06/2007 Curtain Calls
11/29/2007 Curtain Calls
11/22/2007 Broadway composer and actress hit Granite State
11/15/2007 One-man play turns audience into students
11/8/2007 Curtain calls
11/1/2007 First times
10/25/2007 Curtain Calls
10/18/2007 Curtain Calls
10/11/2007 American History
10/04/2007 Active in the community
9/27/2007 Stringing single
9/20/2007 Curtain Calls
9/13/2007 Free range
9/6/2007 Curtain Calls
8/30/2007 Curtain Calls
8/23/2007 Curtain Calls
8/16/2007 Curtain Calls
8/9/2007 Curtain Calls
8/2/2007 That deaf, dumb and blind kid
7/26/2007 Potty humor
7/19/2007 Ease on down the road
7/12/2007 Jekyll vs. Hyde
7/5/2007 If it's free, it's for me
6/28/2007 Transformations
6/21/2007 Curtain calls
6/14/2007 No really, you'll get it
6/7/2007 Curtain calls
5/31/2007 Curtain calls
5/24/2007 Putting the camp in camp
5/17/2007 Curtain Calls
5/10/2007 Curtain Calls
5/3/2007 Curtain Calls
4/26/2007 Still going strong
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 Palaceís Godspell
From stage to the silver screen
Great play, too bad itís over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
Itís 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, doesnít 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 Taxiís driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Playersí Solidarity is solid gold
Plaid
Plaid (II)
Playing with manís 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 Ďnight Mother