2009 / 2010 Season

Saturday, April 10 – “Hound” Opening Night a SUCCESS!

Audience reaction to Friday night’s opening performance of The Hound of the Baskervilles was absolutely wonderful – a success! Excellent performances and the play’s tight direction was cited by many opening night audience members; now, on with the remaining weekend performances, tonight at 8:00 PM and Sunday at 2:00 PM! Get a look at the opening night curtain call courtesy of Dave Matlow and westportnow.com:

http://www.westportnow.com/index.php?/v2/comments/27528/

And here’s coverage provided by Westport Patch:

http://westport.patch.com/articles/westport-community-theatre-brings-mystery-to-the-stage#photo-322968

The ensemble cast features an outstanding performance by Raymond Stephens as Dr. Watson. Raymond has been away from the footlights at WCT for far too long – he returns to the WCT stage after his last appearance as Charlie in The Foreigner, also directed by Skip Ploss, several years ago. Last month he was seen as Brendan in the excellent New Cannan production of The Weir. Other shows include Brutus in Julius Caesar (Darien Town Players), Inspector Gore in An Inspector Calls (Forthill Players) and Blore in And Then There Were None (Curtain Call). When not on stage, he is designing sound plots, such as the sound for Catch-22 (Curtain Call).”

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Dr. Watson (Raymond Stephens), Sherlock Holmes (Sam Mink)

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Auditions – “The Women” by Clare Boothe Luce

Auditions for The Women, directed by Richard Mancini, will be held on:

Sunday, April 18 at 7:30 PM

Monday April 19th at 7:30 PM

Tuesday, April 20th at 7:30 PM

Directed by Richard Mancini

Westport Community Theatre

Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue

Westport, CT 06880

Performance dates are June 4 – June 20, 2010

Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script. Familiarity with the play is suggested. For further information please call Westport Community Theatre at (203) 226-1983 or contact the director at orsonround@optonline.net

This brilliant play has assumed the status of a modern classic. Clare Boothe Luce’s social satire The Women was a smash hit when first performed on Broadway in 1936 and has enjoyed several revival productions during the 1970s and 1990s. A large cast of women (no male characters at all), it is set in the world of high society wives in New York City during the height of the Great Depression – an immensely entertaining panorama of our modern metropolitan world from the feminine viewpoint. The author carries us through a number of varied scenes – and digging under the surface, reveals a human understanding for, and sympathy with, some of its outstanding figures.

The plot involves the efforts of a group of women to play their respective roles in an artificial society that consists of vain show, comedy, tragedy, hope and disappointment. Mary Haines, the protagonist, learns from a gossipy manicurist that her husband, Stephen, is having an affair with a shop-girl named Crystal. After the news of Stephen’s affair is published in a gossip column, Mary decides to divorce him. To obtain her divorce, she travels to Reno, Nevada, where liberal divorce laws attracted many society women wishing to downplay any potential for scandal. While she is in Reno, Mary learns that Stephen has married Crystal. Two years later, Mary, now living back in New York with her children, learns that Crystal has been unfaithful to Stephen. With the help of her friends, Mary sets out to expose Crystal’s infidelity in order to win Stephen back.

Note from the director:  The story takes place in NYC society circles in the 1930s, and there are approximately 20 roles available – all for women between 20s and 60s (and one girl of about 10-11) – depending on doubling and/or combining some smaller roles. Along with the principals listed below, there is a small army of hairdressers, beauticians, saleswomen, fitters, dress models, domestics, etc. which can be doubled/tripled in some cases… but please do not think of these roles as negligible, as in many cases THEY are the ones who drive the story along by passing gossip and compromising information – and their dialogue is often just as crackling as that of the principals.

Mary (Mrs. Stephen Haines), mid-30s: the “heroine,” as nice and as sweet as can be  – she does not buy into the cattiness (and in some cases maliciousness) of her “friends,” and is very reluctant to believe that her husband is cheating on her… which it turns out he is.

Peggy (Mrs. John Day): pretty, sweet, mid-20s; a young married about whom the author says: “Peggy’s character has not, will never quite “jell.” Almost immediately has marital problems because she has money and her husband has not.

Nancy (Miss Blake): The one unmarried member of Mary’s immediate circle, mid-30s. “Sharp but not acid, sleek but not smart… a worldly and yet virginal 35.”

Sylvia (Mrs. Howard Fowler): mid-30s. “Glassy, elegant, feline.” As catty as they come; purports to be Mary’s closest friend, but is not above causing her tumult and hurt through her gossip, innuendo and “advice.” Cheats on her husband, whom she believes to be impotent (which he’s not…)

Edith (Mrs. Phelps Potter): “A sloppy, expensively dressed (currently by Lane Bryant) ‘matron’ of 33 or 34. Indifferent to everything but self, Edith is incapable of either deliberate maliciousness or spontaneous generosity.”

Crystal Allen: mid-20s; Stephen Haines’ mistress – the classic, cold, calculating, gold-digging, beautiful, sexy, younger “other woman” – a shopgirl-turned-society woman after snatching Stephen; one pretty nasty “bitch.”

Miriam Aarons (first appears as “Mud Mask”): mid-late 20s; a Broadway starlet and (as it turns out) mistress to one of the husbands. Not the cold-hearted bitch that Crystal is, by comparison.

Countess de Lage: 40s – 50s. “An amiable, silly, plump and forty-ish heiress type.”

Other smaller but important, non-doubling roles include:

Mary’s mother (mid-late 50s-60s), who has quietly seen and dealt with marital trouble herself – to Mary’s surprise; advises Mary based on her own experience

“Little Mary” (Mary’s daughter, 11)

Jane (20s, Irish-American), Ingrid and Sadie – domestics in the Haines household

Roles that can be doubled/tripled include Princess Tamara, a dress model; an exercise instructress; Stephen’s secretary (also secretly in love with him); and numerous dress fitters, models, beauticians, hairdressers, saleswomen and society women.

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Opening Night, April 9 – The Hound of the Baskervilles

Opening Night, April 9!

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles Cast

The Amazing Cast, "The Hound of the Baskervilles"

Preview audiences last night raved about this production; cast and crew alike are more than excited for tonight’s opening.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes information on Sam Mink, one of WCT’s favorite actors, portraying one of the most well-known characters of books, stage and screen – Sherlock Holmes:

Sam is pleased to be back working at WCT again. Some of the theatre’s most memorable productions  featured Sam, including Proof, Glengarry Glen Ross, Play It Again Sam, The Three Sisters, The Compleat Works of Wm. Shakespeare (Abridged), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, various readings and workshops, and most recently another well known “character,” the role of Larry Olivier in Orson’s Shadow. Other favorite shows he has done with several area theaters include: Dracula (The Musical), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Arms and the Man, Spoon River Anthology, The Birthday Party, Death of a Salesman, and The Trial of the Catonsville Nine.

Farther back in his chequered past he was a founding member of the Connecticut Guild of Puppetry and as part of a troupe whose name is too long to mention presented several wildly successful original shows including The Genie of Beans, The Battle of the Punch and Judies, Hamburgers For Happiness and the ever-popular Macbeth (the puppet version) which was much spookier than it sounds. A little bit more about Sam reveals that he lives in Norwalk with his lovely wife Sherrylee Dickinson, their flock of chickens, and varying numbers of cats and dogs and visiting children. His favorite offstage occupation is his continuing role, now entering its third season, as ‘Pop’ to his grandson Sawyer Young.

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The Hound of the Baskervilles

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

Sam Mink as Sherlock Holmes, Raymond Stephens as Dr. Watson

Directed by Skip Ploss, F. Andrew Leslie’s play is adapted from the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – perhaps the most famous and popular of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, it is a gripping tale that deals with the curse of the Baskerville family and the fiendish killer-hound which stalks its members.

As the action begins, Sir Charles Baskerville has died under mysterious circumstances, and his nephew and heir, the young Sir Henry, has been threatened even before his arrival at Baskerville Hall. Enlisting the aid of Sherlock Holmes, he sets out for his ancestral home on the Devon moor in the company of Dr. Watson, Holmes’ trusted colleague – a journey that brings him to danger, mystery, and a menacing series of events that build with suspense. Hard-pressed to protect his charge, and to fathom the strange mishaps besetting him, Dr. Watson is relieved when Holmes himself appears…

The talented cast features Steve Benko, Scott R. Brill, Bob Filipowich, Sam Mink, Kate Rakowski, Victoria Roy, Raymond Stephens, David Victor and Debbie Zager. Produced by Bob Lasprogato, Trish Goldring is the Production Stage Manager; the production’s inventive lighting design is by Jeff Klein and the intriguing sound design is by Raymond Stephens; both are executed by Amy Louise Carter.

Tickets range from $14 to $18. Groups of 10 or more enjoy a $2 per ticket discount, and there is a special “Student Rush” discount 15 minutes prior to performances for students of all ages with a valid student identification card. For reservations, contact the Box Office at (203) 226-1983. Go to www.westportcommunitytheatre.com for directions to the theatre.

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Director’s Diary: Ice Glen (last installment)

The Morning After
“Strike”: the word has many meanings, most of them suggesting sudden violent force. If you go down the dictionary’s list, eventually you will come to the labor meaning, cessation of work to exert pressure on an employer (I am very familiar with this experience, and its agonies).
Still further down is “to haul down (as a flag); to dismantle and take away; to strike the tents of (as a camp).” This is the theatrical meaning of the word, and we committed this act of sudden violence yesterday as we struck Ice Glen after the closing performance.

Yes, dismantling a show (or a camp) is part of a routine, and an anticipated part at that. But what happens as the props are cleaned and stored or sorted out and returned to their lenders—as the furniture is stacked to await the truck that will return the various components of the play’s “home” to their own separate households and shops—as the lights that have made eleven cycles of morning and afternoon and sunset and moonlight are unplugged and hauled down—as the characters yield up their costumes to be cleaned and stored—as the stage is swept one last time—as the lovely view of a wooded Berkshires hill becomes just a painted wall—is the end of a world onstage and the breaking of a family backstage, certainly a cataclysm no matter how routine.
The play as it develops is a living thing, and the relationships among those who bring it to life are intense and intimate; but as of today, the “morning after,” the play is a book awaiting another company to give it life, the production is a memory, and the cast and crew return to their more mundane routines and usual relationships. The love and gratitude we have expressed to one another in notes and gifts and toasts are real and will be translated into friendships as opportunity allows, and the production is memorialized on tape. But the experience of the show, the singular evanescent joy that is the essence of the performing arts, is finished now. We will all go on to other shows, because this kind of joy is addictive. But this one is over.
In professional theater the actors and running crew and director don’t strike the set: stagehands do. But although it must be nice to be spared the physical and emotional pains associated with taking a show apart, I think that participating in it is a healthy thing, a way of making a real transition out of the play and a formal farewell not only to one another but also to the world we have inhabited together.

And at last we part, with the inevitable, wonderful question: “What are you doing next?”

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