BEST BETS FOR THE STAGE
Ayckbourn in Vermont
One of prolific British playwright Alan Ayckbourn's signal accomplishments is "The Norman Conquests," a trilogy of plays — "Living Together," "Table Manners" and "Round and Round the Garden," set in the living room, dining room and garden of the same country house on one unfortunate weekend for all concerned. The plays stand quite well on their own but, at the same, Ayckbourn's conceit is that each time any character in one of the plays exits or enters a scene, he or she is exiting into or entering from a scene in one of the other plays. Three theaters in Vermont — Northern Stage in White River Jct., Dorset Playhouse in Dorset and Weston Playhouse in Weston — are doing one of the plays in the trilogy, in turn and with the same cast and creative team. "Living Together," the first in the trilogy, played earlier this month at Northern Stage. The second play, "Table Manners," opens June 16 at Dorset; "Round and Round the Garden" opens July 14 in Weston.
Dorset has in its season plays by two of America's preeminent female playwrights, Sarah Ruhl — "Dear Elizabeth" (regional premiere) about the relationship between American poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell; and Theresa Rebeck, "The Way of the World" (world premiere), a contemporary reinvention of William Congreve's 1700 sardonic comedy masterpiece.
Oldcastle Theatre Company had one of its most successful seasons last summer, at least in terms of box office. It is picking up in 2016 with "The 39 Steps," Patrick Barlow's imaginative stage reinvention of John Buchan's 1915 novel and Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film, in which four actors — three men and one woman — play more than 150 characters. Also this summer "Big River," a musical based on "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," and "The City of Conversation," a 2014 play by Anthony Guardina, set in 1979, about the art of conversation and politics in Washington, D.C.
The Theater Barn
This unassuming, from-the-heart non-Equity professional theater in New Lebanon, N.Y., offers a generally pleasing mix of comedy, Agatha Christie and musicals. This summer's big musical will be "The Wedding Singer." The Agatha Christie is "Towards Zero" and the smaller musicals are "Forever Plaid" and "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah." The comedy? Tom Dudzik's "Don't Talk to the Actors."
Debra Jo Rupp at Barrington Stage
This engaging actress will be at Barrington Stage twice this season — the second time in September in the St. Germain Stage. Her first summer appearance begins June 16 in the St. Germain Stage as the title character in David Lindsay-Abaire's "Kimberly Akimbo" in which she plays a teenage girl with an affliction that causes her to age rapidly. Rob Ruggiero, who directed this play in 2005 at his TheaterWorks in Hartford, Conn., returns to Barrington Stage to helm this quirky, funny, touching play anew.
This truly gifted actress has given us many memorable performances at Shakespeare & Company, most recently last season in "The How and the Why." She's back this summer in "Or," a play by Liz Duffy Adams that imagines one chaotic night in the life of Aphra Behn (1640-1689) — poet, spy and the first female playwright.
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