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It’s all about iconic tales this weekend
Published: Thursday, August 11, 2011
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By Bob Goepfert
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The big theater event of the upcoming week is the week-long run of “West Side Story” at Proctors Theater in Schenectady.
The national tour of the Leonard Bernstein-Jerome Robbins-Stephen Sondheim musical promises to be one of the most exciting productions of the summer.
Based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” “West Side Story” substitutes gangs for the warring clans of Capulets and Montagues. The story of a couple associated with rival gangs who fall in love remains timelessly tragic. But it is more than the tale of two doomed lovers that makes “West Side Story” so impressive; it is the integration of dance into the story that makes this thrilling theater.
“West Side Story” was the show that redefined the role of Broadway performers. It invented the triple-threat performer — one who had to sing and dance as well as act.
“West Side Story” is at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady Tuesday-Sunday. 345-6204, www.proctors.org.
ALBANY — “West Side Story” is not the only theater event in the area.
Indeed all the well-known, big budget theater festivals offer productions this week. But they, like Proctors, are not inexpensive. There are, however, some less-expensive alternatives for those who enjoy theater but live on a budget.
You can’t get more inexpensive than free. Park Playhouse in Albany’s Washington Park is offering not one but two free productions and this is the final week of their performances. “The Producers” begins at 8 p.m. and Park II offers the musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at 5:30 p.m. See one or see both. Each continues through Sunday for free. 434-0776.
SCHENECTADY and CHATHAM — If you like iconic musicals, “Rent” is at Schenectady Light Opera Company’s new home at 427 Franklin St. in Schenectady and “Grease” plays Mac-Haydn Theater in Chatham.
“Grease” is the innocent musical that people wished defined the 1960s, while "Rent" is a rock-sounding, angst-filled work that speaks to the young who lived in the 1980s and ‘90s.
That neither is an accurate depiction of their eras is besides the point (“Rent” for instance is an adaptation of Puccini’s opera “La Boheme” written in 1896). What is interesting is that those who were raised in the period represented by the musicals relate strongly to the story and the music as representative of their lives.
There is a paid admission for both shows, $28 — $30 for “Grease,” which runs through Sunday. 392-9292, www.machaydntheatre.org. “Rent” plays this weekend and next, tickets are $12 — $38; 877-350-7378, www.sloctheater.org.
LAKE GEORGE — I suppose historical accuracy is not an essential element for a successful theatrical production. However, if you like the illusion of history, you can’t do much better than the outdoor production of “The Last of the Mohicans” in Lake George.
The play is based on the James Fenimore Cooper novel about the French and Indian War. This is a pageant-like production with a large cast, live horses and replica costumes. What adds magic to the production is it is performed at (or very near) the actual site of the historical events it portrays.
“Last of the Mohicans” continues at the Wild West Ranch on Route 9, one mile south of Lake George Village Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturday through Aug. 20. Admission is $20 adults, $15 for under 12 and over 65. 681-1574, www.lastofthemohicans.org.
Should you be in the Lake George area and crave more comfort for your theater-going experience, the Lake George Dinner Theatre is offering the comedy “Skin Deep.” It is a tale about a person discovering that the essence of beauty is deeper than superficial looks.
This is a professional theater company that offers a very good meal before its production at the Holiday Inn Resort on Route 9 in Lake George Village. Performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays (dinner at 6:30 p.m.) with three matinees offered weekly. For schedule and ticket information 668-5762, www.lakegreorgedinnertheatre.com.