New Theater Comes Alive in Sag Harbor and East Hampton

At Bay Street's New Works Festival
At Bay Street’s New Works Festival

The South Fork’s theatrical offerings are coming alive for the spring, beginning with the New Works Festival at the Bay Street Theatre this weekend, and continuing next week with Guild Hall’s production of Conor McPherson’s “The Night Alive.”

The three-day New Works Festival will include readings of plays and musicals in development by some of New York’s most innovative writers, including “The Roommate” by Jen Silverman, “Community” by Stephen Kaplan, “From Ship to Shape” by Walker Vreeland and the new musical “The Man in the Ceiling” by Jules Feiffer with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa.

The mission of the free festival is to give playwrights a chance to hear their works in development in front of an audience and to give East End audiences a chance to experience cutting edge voices in the theater.

Each play will be read by professional actors in its entirety, accompanied by minimal staging, followed by a discussion between the playwrights and the audience.

“The Roommate” by Jen Silverman, directed by Mike Donahue will be presented on Friday, April 29 at 7 p.m. In the play, recently divorced Sharon is looking for a roommate to share her Iowa home. She meet’s Robin, also in her mid-50s, who is full of secrets and looking for a place to hide. When Sharon begins to learn Robin’s dark secrets, she’s drawn into a dangerous new world.

“Community” by Stephen Kaplan, directed by Rob Urbinati, is a play-within-a-play about race in the theater community. It will be presented on April 30 at 3 p.m. In the play, Chris has just been cast as George in a production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” He invites Zach, the young, black actor who’s been cast as Nick, over for a drink to give him some actorly advice – and possibly to kill him. When the actors playing Martha and Honey show up uninvited, they become caught in the web of intrigue.

“From Ship to Shape” by Walker Vreeland will be returning on April 30 at 8 p.m. after a reading at Bay Street last fall. The play follows 24-year-old performer Walker Vreeland as he takes a job as a lead singer for Norwegian Cruise Lines. Boarding the Bermuda-bound ship marks the onset of a mental breakdown so severe he wakes up months later at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Mood Disorder Psychiatric Ward.

An Illustrated Musical Comedy, “The Man in the Ceiling,” based on the illustrated novel by Jules Feiffer, is directed by Jeffrey Seller. It will be read on Sunday, May 1 at 3 p.m. Jimmy is a flop as a boy: hopeless in class, helpless at sports, clueless as his mom and sad. But maybe he can find happiness as a boy cartoonist. A Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist joins a Tony-nominated composer and the producer of Hamilton to find out.

Admission to all readings is free of charge, but Bay Street Theatre is asking attendees to reserve their seats online here.

The Night Alive

The cast of Guild Hall's production of "The Night Alive"
The cast of Guild Hall’s production of “The Night Alive”  |  Dane DuPuis photo

In Conor Mcpherson’s “The Night Alive,” which premiered in London in 2013, lead character Tommy gets by renting a run-down room in his uncle’s home in Dublin, while managing to keep the rest of the world – his estranged wife, two teenage children and the police –  at arm’s length.

Then one evening he comes to the aid of a struggling young woman and begins to discover how deeply he depends on the people who depend on him.

“The Night Alive” will be in previews at Guild Hall in East Hampton on May 4 through 6, and opens May 7. Performances will be at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays through May 22. Tickets are $35 and are available online here.

In this production, Tommy is played by Screen Actors Guild award-winner Kevin O’Rourke, and the cast features J. Stephen Brantley, Molly Carden, Rob DiSario and Tuck Milligan. Stephen Hamilton directs.

“McPherson is the leading voice in contemporary Irish theatre,” says Mr. Hamilton. “And the depth of humanity exposed in this, his newest play, is balanced superbly with the kind of boisterous humor that McPherson has become famous for.”

The play won the 2014 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.

The New York Times says “something bright and beautiful pulses in the shadows of “The Night Alive,” the extraordinary new play by Conor McPherson.”

Mr. Hamilton has directed Guild Hall’s critically acclaimed and sold-out productions of “All My Sons,” “RED,” “Uncle Vanya” and “The Cripple of Inishmaan.”

As in many of Mr. Hamilton’s previous shows at the John Drew, the audience is seated on the stage during the performance.  Due to the intimate nature of this staging, seating is limited and audiences are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance. These performances sell out quickly.

The John Drew Theater at Guild Hall is at 158 Main Street, East Hampton, New York 11937. In addition to online ticketing, tickets are available at the box office by calling 631.324.4050, Theatermania.com or 1.866.811.4111.

 




Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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