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Keuka College’s Fall Theatrical Production is set 614 Years Ago

Brian Cobb '08 M'11 (l) and John P. Christensen rehearse a scene from The Lady's Not for Burning

A  romantic comedy in three acts, Keuka College’s fall theatrical production, The Lady’s Not for Burning  is set in the Middle Ages.

Written by Christopher Fry, the play reflects the world’s “exhaustion and despair” following World War II, with a war-weary soldier who wants to die, and an accused witch who wants to live. In form, it resembles Shakespeare’s pastoral comedies.

Directed by Professor of Theatre Mark Wenderlich, The Lady’s Not for Burning opens Friday, Oct. 17. The show begins at 8 p.m. in the Red Barn Theater, with additional performances Saturday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. and again at 7 p.m.

“There are some neat angles in this show, as the play is co-produced by the Penn Yan Theatre Co. (PYTCo.), the Division of Humanities and Fine Art, and the Arion Players Drama Club,” said Wenderlich. “Two town people are in the cast, and we also have two alumni and a staff member [in the production].”

Thomas Mendip, a discharged soldier, weary of the world and eager to leave it, comes to small town Cool Clary, announces he has committed murder and demands to be hanged. A philosophical humorist, Thomas is annoyed when the officials oppose his request, even believing he is not guilty of the crime he suggests. Shortly afterward, a young woman, Jennet, is brought before the mayor for witchcraft, but for some strange reason she has no wish to be put to death.

Jake Banas (l), Eileen Farrar, and Justin Krog rehearse a scene from Keuka College's fall theatrical production

A dark comedy of rare wit and exulted language, Thomas tries, in his own way, to prove to the official how absurd it would be to refuse to hang a man who wants to be hanged, and at the same time to kill a woman who is not only guiltless, but doesn’t want to die. Jennet enjoys the banter, and soon sees the merit in Thomas the man.

The mayor’s family members, clerks and officials gather for an impending wedding and seem to be stuck with the dilemma of two uninvited people—who may or may not be hanged in the morning—who must be included in the pre-nuptial activities.

First produced in England, The Lady’s Not for Burning had a successful run in New York. It has proved, because of its delightful freshness, the dramatic thrust of its poetry, and the sheer high spirits with which the author has endowed his characters, a joy to producer and actor, as well as to the audience.

The New York Herald Tribune called it “a poetic fantasy of rare splendor and delight…a work of magical humor and deep beauty.”

Ryan Gillotti and Alicia Brown rehearse a scene from The Lady's Not for Burning

The cast includes Ryan Gillotti (Richard), a senior American Sign Language-English interpreting major from Auburn; Alicia Brown (Alizon Elliot), a senior occupational science major from Kirkwood; Phil Atherlay (Nichols), a junior adolescent English/special education major from Deposit; Jake Banas (Chaplain), a senior English major from Delmar; and Caleigh Alterio ’14 (Jennet Jourdamaine), who is pursuing her degree in occupational therapy.

Justin Krog, program developer for the College’s Office of Information Technology Services (ITS), portrays Tappercoom. Penn Yan resident Brian Cobb ’08, M’11 will return to his alma mater to portray Thomas Mendip in the production. Cobb teaches English at Penn Yan Academy. Logan Ackerly ’14 also returns to his alma mater and will portray Humphrey. Ackerly serves as an installation merchandiser at Hallmark Cards in the Greater New York City Area. John P. Christensen, reporter for the Penn Yan Chronicle Express portrays Hebble Tyson, mayor. Eileen Farrar, a Penn Yan resident who has worked with PYTCo., portrays Margaret.

Amelia Gonnella, a freshman clinical science major from Marcellus, serves as stage manager.

Tickets are $5 for Keuka College students, faculty, staff, and alumni; and $10 for the general public. Seating is limited. Tickets for The Lady’s not for Burning can be purchased in advance on instantseats.com, and are available at the box office.

“Odd Couple” Update Opens Oct.24

Ryan Gillotti (l) and Logan Ackerely rehearse a scene from Oscar and Felix (photo by Sarah Marquart '14)

Two mismatched roommates, who both have been thrown out by their wives, sets the scene for Oscar and Felix, the fall theatrical production at Keuka College.

The comedy, written by Neil Simon, is an update to his The Odd Couple, and pits slobbish Oscar Madison against his best-friend-turned-roommate, the ultra fastidious Felix Ungar, in a pitched battle to see who’ll drive the other insane first.

Directed by Professor of Theatre Mark Wenderlich, Oscar and Felix opens Thursday, Oct. 24. The show begins at 8 p.m. in the Red Barn Theatre, with additional performances Friday, Oct. 25-Saturday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m.

The story finds Madison, a bachelor since his wife, Blanche, kicked him out years ago, living as he pleases. His apartment is in a constant state of disarray, discarded clothes lie all over the place, and he hosts regular poker games with his pals.

Enter Felix, who has just been given the boot by his wife, Frances. With nowhere to turn, he shows up at Oscar’s place where his friends, tipped off about the breakup, are constantly—and hilariously—on guard against suicide attempts by their distraught friend.

Left to right: Ryan Gillotti, Sini Ngobese, Logan Ackerley, and Sierra Lynch.(Photo by Sarah Marquart '14)

The Odd Couple premiered on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre March 10, 1965 and transferred to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. It closed July 2, 1967 after 964 performances and two previews. Directed by Mike Nichols, the cast starred Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison and Art Carney as Felix Ungar. The production gained Tony Awards for best actor, best author, best direction of a play, and best scenic design. It was also nominated for best play.

The characters were revived in a successful 1968 film and 1970s television series, as well as other derivative works and spin-offs, including an adaption with a female cast. In addition to performances in venues across the United States, The Odd Couple has been seen in Scotland, England, Canada, Venezuela, Japan, and Poland.

Members of the cast include Logan Ackerley (Oscar Madison), a senior political science/history major from Liberty; Ryan Gillotti (Felix Ungar), a junior American Sign Language-English major from Auburn; Joe Micnerski (Roy), a sophomore English major from Grayslake, Ill.; Michael Musolino (Speed), a freshman American Sign Language-English interpreting major from Durhamville; Marco Cartwright (Vinnie), a senior management major from Painted Post; Sini Ngobese (Inez Costazuela), a junior management major from Durban, South Africa; and Sierra Lynch (Hoolya Costazuela), a junior psychology major from Watervliet. Justin Krog, program developer for the College’s Office of Information Technology Services (ITS), portrays Murray.

Oscar and Felix will run Oct. 24-27 in the Red Barn Theatre. (Photo by Sarah Marquart '14)

Members of the crew include Kelsey R. Marquart ’12 (stage manager), technical support technician for ITS; Danica Zielinski (light designer), a senior American Sign Language major from Congers; Jake Banas (costume designer), a junior English major from Delmar; Caleigh Alterio (light board operator), a senior occupational science major from Akron; Elijah Snipes (sound board operator), a senior psychology major from Rochester; P. Gibson Ralph, (set designer); and Dan Roach, (sound designer).

Ralph is chair of the Department of Theatre and Music Studies and an associate professor of theatre at SUNY Brockport, while Roach has worked with the Eastman Opera, Geva Theatre, and Downstairs Cabaret Theatre, among others.

The Oct. 24 performance will benefit the cast members’ 2014 trip to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. All tickets are $7 and will be on sale at the door. Tickets for the other three performances are $5 for Keuka students, faculty, staff, and alumni; and $10 for the general public. Seating is limited.

Extra! Extra! Sophomore Stakes Out Claim to News

Banas with reporter John Purcell at Delmar Spotlight News

For Jake Banas, the month of January was all about journalism.

The Keuka College sophomore and Delmar resident spent most of the month writing for The Spotlight, an independent news organization headquartered in his hometown, near Albany. Spotlight News produces five weekly editions in Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga counties, with a combined circulation of more than 45,000, according to its website.

Each Keuka undergrad conducts a 140-hour internship, known as Field Period, every year en route to a bachelor’s degree. An English major, Banas had begun to write for the Keukonian, the student newspaper at Keuka, and decided to learn more about journalism by pursuing an internship with his hometown paper.

Banas started by proofing pages for grammatical errors before the paper went to press for a Thursday distribution. From there, he began writing short event announcements submitted by local organizations, and gradually worked his way into full-scale, bylined articles—transitioning from shadowing reporters to being a reporter himself.

“The first day I walked in, everything was very hectic, because it was a Wednesday and they were trying to finalize the paper and get it out [the next day]. People were yelling back and forth and I was kind of scared, not sure what was happening,” Banas said. “The next day it was all quiet because everyone was out doing assignments and getting ready for the next issue.”

His first major assignment was an interview with the owner of the Junk King garbage removal company for the paper’s regular “Spotlight on Business” feature. Other assignments found Banas at the local school district board of education meeting, or taking hundreds of photos of different town locales. As each article went into print, Banas said it was “incredible” to have something he wrote published. Most of his work ran in the Bethlehem Spotlight, he said, while a few articles ran in other editions.

“There’s a lot more to journalism than people think. I expected it to be so simple, [thinking] you just hear a story and write about it but I learned you want to keep your ears open for specific things,” Banas said. “You have to go out and work with people and gather information and there’s a lot more to take away from it than just sitting there, writing the news.” (more…)

Tony Award-winning The Heidi Chronicles Opens April 12

The cast of The Heidi Chronicles rehearses a scene in this Wendy Wasserstein drama.

Keuka College’s spring theater production will be Wendy Wasserstein’s drama The Heidi Chronicles.

The play will be staged Thursday-Sunday, April 12-15 in the College’s Red Barn Theatre. Curtain is 8 p.m. for the Thursday, April 12-14 shows, and 7 p.m. Sunday, April 15. The April 12 performance will benefit the cast members’ trip to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in January. (more…)

The Slovakian Connection

What recently transpired in a Keuka College classroom is further proof that the world is getting smaller.

High school students in a Slovakian classroom use Skype to chat with Keuka students in an education classroom.

Some 30 students in Assistant Professor of Education Denise Love’s EDU 105: Education of Diverse Learners class, used Skype to find out what makes Slovakian students tick.

And vice versa.

(more…)