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“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.

“Almost” is Spring Theatrical Production

Ryan Gillotti and Danica Zielinski in a scene from Almost, Maine

A cold, moonless December sets the tone for romance, heartache and humor in Keuka College’s spring theatrical production of Almost, Maine.

A romantic comedy written by American actor John Cariani and directed by Professor of Theatre Mark Wenderlich, the play opens Thursday, April 18. The show begins at 8 p.m. in the Red Barn Theatre. Additional performances are Friday, April 19 through Saturday, April 20 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 21 at 7 p.m.

The play is composed of nine short plays that explore love and loss in the remote, mythical place called Almost, Maine. As the northern lights hover in the star-filled sky, the residents of Almost find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and often hilarious ways.

The New York Times wrote that Almost, Maine is “a comedy comprising almost a dozen two-character vignettes exploring the sudden thunderclap of love and the scorched earth that sometimes follows.”

Logan Ackerley and Caleigh Alterio from a scene in Almost, Maine

Almost, Maine premiered at the Portland (Maine) Stage Company, where it broke box office records and garnered critical acclaim. Almost, Maine is featured in Smith and Kraus’ New Playwrights: Best Plays of 2006. The play was selected by The Wall Street Journal and the American National Theatre as one of the most outstanding regional theatre productions of the 2004-05 season.

Members of the cast include Logan Ackerley, a junior political science/history major from Liberty (Peter, Jimmy, Randy, Lendall, and Dave); Caleigh Alterio, a junior occupational science major from Akron (Ginette, Sandrine, Hope); Ryan Gillotti, a sophomore American Sign Language-English major from Cayuga (East, Chad, Man); Danica Zielinski, a junior American Sign Language major from Congers (Glory); Sierra Lynch, a junior psychology major from Watervliet (Marvalyn, Waitress); Joe Micnerski, a freshman English major from Grayslake, Ill. (Steve, Phil); and Sini Ngobese, a sophomore management major from Durban, South Africa (Rhonda, Gayle, Marci).

Members of the crew include Zielinski (stage manager, costume designer, and set designer); Dan Roach (sound designer); Stephen Funk, a senior psychology major from Homer (sound board operator); P. Gibson Ralph (light designer); and Erica Ruscio, a senior English major from Middlesex (light board operator).

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.

Tickets for the performances are $5 for Keuka students, faculty, staff, and alumni and $10 for the general public. Tickets are available at the door. Seating is limited.

‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ to Run Oct. 25-28

The Importance of Being Earnest, a comedy by Oscar Wilde, will be the fall theatrical production at Keuka College.

The Cast of "Earnest" (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '16)

The play will be staged Thursday- Saturday, Oct. 25-27, at 8 p.m. and Sunday Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Red Barn Theatre.

Directed by Professor of Theatre Mark Wenderlich, who also serves as lighting director, The Importance of Being Earnest offers a hilarious look at fun, games, and dubious ethics among the British upper crust.

Algernon Moncrieff is a slightly shady, but charming gentleman from a wealthy family who has a bad habit of throwing his money away. His close friend is Jack Worthing, a self-made man who acts as a ward to his cousin, Cecily.

Teatime with Cecily (Katy Standinger) Algernon (Logan Ackerley) and Merriman (Elijah Snipes II) (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '16)

Algernon has created an alter ego to help him get out of tight spots brought on by his financial improprieties, and when he learns that Jack has created a false identity of his own—Earnest, a brother living in London whose exploits have earned him no small amount of notoriety— Algernon arrives for a weekend visit in the country posing as the mysterious Earnest. Having heard of Earnest’s misadventures many times over the years, Cecily had developed something of an infatuation with the lovable rogue, and Algernon’s impersonation of him works no small degree of magic on Cecily.

Rev. Chausable and Miss Prism (Matthew Snyder and Sierra Lynch). (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '16)

Meanwhile, Algernon’s cousin, Gwendolyn arrives for the weekend, and is startled to discover Jack is also there—except that she knows him as bad-boy Earnest. So just who is in love with whom? How will Lady Bracknell handle the matter of daughter Gwendolyn’s suitors? And what’s the truth about Jack’s mysterious heritage?

Members of the cast include Jacob Banas (Jack Worthing); Logan Ackerley (Algernon Moncrieff); Caleigh Alterio (Gwendolen Fairfax); Katy Standinger  (Cecily Cardew); Jenny Tammera (Lady Bracknell) Matthew Snyder (Lane/Rev. Chasuble); Sierra Lynch  (Miss Prism); and Elijah Snipes II (Merriman).

Members of the crew include Danica Zielinski (stage manager, light board manager, and scenic designer); Damita Peace (costume designer); Dan Roach (sound designer); Stephen Funk  (sound board operator); and Jessamine Qualman, Robert Hernandez, Alicia Brown, and Cheryl Walsh (crew).

The Oct. 27 performance will benefit the cast members’ 2013 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 $4 for Keuka students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and $7 for the general public. Seating is limited.

The Bard: A Reader’s Digest Version

By Amanda Harrison ’12

Shakespearean actor and author Tim Mooney will bring his one-man show Lot ’o Shakespeare to Keuka College Wednesday, April 25.

The next offering in the Spotlight Series, the show begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Red Barn Theater and is free and open to the public.

Mooney will perform a single monologue from each Shakespeare play, with the order determined by chance.

Lot ’o Shakespeare “takes highbrow art and mixes it with lowbrow fun,” said Matthew J. Palm of the Orlando Sentinel. “Mooney is an engaging presence and can switch from indignation in Comedy of Errors, to earnest in a love sonnet, to comical Malvolio in Twelfth Night. He may not be as physically imposing as some actors to play Henry V, but his St. Crispen’s Day speech made me want to take up arms with him.”

Chaim Eliyahu of KCStage.com called Lot o’ Shakespeare “a tour de force comprising no fewer than 19 Shakespeare scenes and sonnets. Mooney’s interpretations were outstanding, and not infrequently cast new light on obscure corners of Shakespeare’s work.”

Mooney has also garnered rave reviews for Moliere Than Thou, another one-man show. He is the author of an acting textbook titled Acting at the Speed of Life; Conquering Theatrical Style.

Keuka Theatre Prof Gives Back

Over his many years in theatrical directing, Mark Wenderlich has some experience in taking on new roles.

His latest – as the new executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Ontario County – adds another dimension to a career of service in a variety of “hands-on” positions.

According to Wenderlich, he first got involved with Habitat about 16 years ago, volunteering to build one of the organization’s homes. The organization’s ability to meet tangible needs in a concrete way appealed to him, he said.

“I was looking for a way to give back and doing something with my hands was appealing to me,” he said.

When he got to the house, he was put to work putting a lock on a door, and by day’s end, he was helping to finish the roof.

Then about six months ago, the Canandaigua resident noticed the old racquetball club property on County Road 10 had been revived as something called the “ReStore.” Curious, he stopped in and found new and gently used appliances, furniture and other home goods selling at prices 50-70% below retail in a building staffed primarily by volunteers. The organization running the venture? Habitat for Humanity.
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How Did Walt Bates Die?

Jessamine Qualman (l) in a scene with Mackenzie Ellis.

Keuka College’s fall theater production will be Lanford Wilson’s mystery Book of Days.

The play will be staged Oct. 27-30 in the College’s Red Barn Theatre. The Oct. 27 performance will benefit the cast members’ trip to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in January.

“It’s a revisit of small-town mid-America with conservative ethics in a crucial life-threatening situation,” said Mark Wenderlich, professor of theatre and director of the production. “It deals with not only black and white, but a lot of shades of gray of truth and how people see things.”

The story revolves around Dublin, a quiet Missouri town with more churches than bars, and a cheese factory at the center of commerce.
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Designing ‘Til Her Hands Fall Off

While finishing up part of the set design for the Keuka College spring play last semester, Danica Zielinski broke her hand.

The then-freshman pushed ahead, however, eager to finish her set work and fulfill duties as assistant stage manager for Rabbit, Nina Raine’s dark comedy, staged at the Barn, Keuka’s theatrical performance space.

“I have arthritis and was doing splatter-painting when I heard a crack. But I kept going until I finished and went to the doctor after the set was done.  It hurt, and sure enough, I was in a brace for about two months,” Zielinski recalled.

Perhaps that sacrifice made news that her set design won a merit award, from the Kennedy Center American College Theater (KCACT) Region II festival competition, all the more sweet.

“I was ecstatic,” said the Congers resident.

Red accents enhanced the black themes in Zielinski's set design for Nina Raine's dark comedy, "Rabbit."

“She’d never designed a set before, which makes it remarkable she received that [award] on her first design,” professor of theatre Mark Wenderlich said, adding that Zielinski auditioned for an acting role as a first-semester freshman and he didn’t pick up on her design talents until he observed her drawing during rehearsals. (more…)

Plenty of Options for Multi-Talented Senior

Editor’s Note: This is the 7th in a series of stories saluting members of the Class of 2011. We asked division chairs for story ideas and they in turn contacted faculty members for ideas. We believe they came up with some terrific profiles.

If all the world’s a stage, Amber Smith has three she is intently looking into as she considers the next chapter of her life: hip-hop dance, acting or maybe owning her own business.

The Canandaigua resident will graduate Sunday with a bachelor’s degree in management from Keuka College, but has invested plenty of time acting in campus plays, serving as president of the Arion Players (drama club), and fine-tuning leadership skills in the business and management program.

Immediately following graduation, Smith plans to seek a full-time job and work on a master’s degree in management through Keuka’s Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP), which enables adults to earn degrees in 18 months or less attending night classes once a week.

“I’m currently looking at Cornell Cooperative and attempting to do something through 4-H,” Smith said, noting she did marketing work for a local 4-H camp for one of her Field Periods. At Keuka, each student is required to complete a 140-hour hands-on internship – known as the Field Period – each year. Smith has also conducted Field Periods in China at one of Keuka’s sister schools, in human resources at F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua, and in marketing assistance at non-profit Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park in Canandaigua.

Should she pursue a career in the corporate world, Smith is not likely one to be intimidated by public presentations or pulling projects together under a deadline. That’s because Smith has held a number of acting roles in her four years at Keuka in addition to coordinating events such as an all-arts or improv night, said Mark Wenderlich, associate professor of theatre. (more…)

Where Have All the Cowboys – er, men- Gone?

If Newton’s third law of physics states that every action requires an opposite and equal reaction, then Jennie Joiner would like to see that applied to emerging trends in the state of manhood.

“If we’ve redefined feminism, we need to redefine [masculinity],” says Joiner, assistant professor of English at Keuka. “We’re in an interesting space culturally, where no one wants to step up and do that – it makes everyone uncomfortable.”

As such, a Thursday talk Joiner will present, “Lifting the Fig Leaf to Reveal Hidden Masculinities,” will explore contemporary notions of masculinity in the figurative cowboy as depicted in the novel True Grit and its two film versions. Joiner’s talk will also include a scene from the recent Keuka production of Rabbit by Nina Raine and a discussion of the themes of that play. Her presentation starts at 4:15 p.m. in Hegeman 109.

The cowboy – a specifically American icon – has always embodied the conflicting issues seen in manhood, she said. However, there’s a difference between the 1968 cowboy depicted by John Wayne and the 2010 cowboy depicted by Jeff Bridges in the Coen brothers recent Western remake, Joiner said, one that speaks to an apparent reluctance on the part of men these days to embrace a fully defined role.

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Born Yesterday Opens Oct. 28

 

Born Yesterday, a comedy by Rochester native Garson Kanin, will be the fall theatre production at Keuka College.

The play will be staged Thursday–Saturday, Oct. 28-30, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. in the Red Barn Theatre. The Oct. 28 performance will benefit the cast members’ trip to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in January.

First featured in the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway, Born Yesterday was made into a movie in 1950 with actress Judy Holliday, who received a best-actress Oscar for her performance. The Keuka production is directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Mark Wenderlich, who also serves as lighting designer.

Born Yesterday is one of America’s original screwball comedies. Harry Brock, a business tycoon, goes to Washington, D.C. trying to break into the “special interest” business with an ethically-challenged senator. Brock realizes his fiancée, Billie Dawn, may need a makeover to fit his new inside-the-beltway image. To ensure that Billie gets properly “culturefied,” Brock hires a D.C. journalist to give the seemingly dim-witted blonde a crash course in politics, history, literature, and—of course—true love.

Members of the cast include Logan Ackerley (Paul Verrall), a  freshman political science/history major from Liberty; Caleigh Alterio (manicurist/bellhop), a freshman occupational science major from Akron; Patrick Caughill (Harry Brock), a senior English major from Buffalo; Ross Gleason (Ed Devery), a freshman management major from Chester, Vt.; Jessica Gonzalez (Helen), a sophomore English and psychology major from Hudson; Greg Griffing (Senator Norval Hedges), a freshman adolescent English education major from Riverhead; Sierra Lynch (bootblack bellhop), a freshman criminology/criminal justice major from Watervliet; Billie Risboskin (bellhop), a freshman occupational science major from Waverly; Amber Smith (Billie Dawn), a senior management major from Canandaigua; Matthew Snyder (Eddie Brock), a sophomore adolescent English and mathematics education major from Potsdam; Jenny Tammera (barber/bellhop), a freshman adolescent English/special education major from Belvidere, N.J.; Carolyn Thompson (assistant manager), a senior political science/history major from New York; Danica Zielinski (Anna Hedges), a freshman American Sign Language-English interpreting major from Congers; and Winsome Zinkievic (waitress), a freshman unified childhood/special education major from East Meredith.

Costumes for the performance are designed by Jerry D. Allen, who serves as chairman of the theatre department at Lycoming College. P. Gibson Ralph, set designer, is an associate professor of theatre at SUNY Brockport, while Dan Roach, sound designer, is also working with the Eastman Opera production of Inherit the Wind.

Kelsey Marquart, a junior English major from Auburn, serves as stage manager and Julia Foster, a sophomore management major from Penn Yan, serves as box office manager.

Tickets are $4 for members of the Keuka community and $7 for the general public. All seats for the Oct. 28 performance are $7, and are available online at: http://www.instantseats.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.results&search=keuka&x=37&y=8.