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April Theatre Highlights

Fr-Su 4/8, 9, 10- WOODSTOCK WRITERS FEST, at Kleinert/James Arts Center and Tinker St. Cinema/Upstate Films, Woodstock—Do you fancy yourself a writer? Or do you simply have a deep appreciation for the written word, and enjoy making the human connection to the author? Or do you just like hearing poetry performed with a good voice? If the answer is “yes” you might want to look into this year’s Woodstock Writers Fest, with three full days of workshops, panels, lectures, readings, and social gatherings for such wordsmiths centered in downtown Woodstock. For the more serious writer, the festival actually starts earlier in the week, hosting daily workshops with acclaimed writers Susan Richards (Chosen By a Horse), Larry Beinhart (Wag the Dog), and Abigail Thomas (A Three Dog Life). Then Friday starts with a special tribute to the influential poet Lucille Clifton—who passed away last Spring—featuring readings by esteemed poets Sarah Browning, Cornelius Eady, Aracelis Girmay, and Patricia Smith, hosted by Gretchen Primack (4 PM, Kleinert/James). After a “schmooze” dinner at Oriole 9, Susan Richards hosts a talk/Q&A with popular novelist Jon Katz (8 PM, K/J). Seminars on social network marketing and spirituality/consciousness get Saturday started, then it’s another special poetry reading/seminar. “The Evolution of a Writer” feature four of the most distinguished poets of our times—Paul Muldoon, Tim Seibles, Vijay Seshadri, and Jean Valentine—exploring the ways a poet’s work changes over the course of a life, sharing their own stories (2:30 PM, K/J). Award-winning novelist Gail Godwin hosts an informal Q&A (4 PM, Oriole 9), Rolling Stone writer/author Holly George-Warren hosts “Behind the Scenes of Rock & Roll” with panelists Michael Lang, Parke Puterbaugh, and Sean Yseult (4:15 PM, K/J), and a Memoirs Panel closes the evening, featuring Nick Flynn, Shalom Auslander, and Marion Winik (8 PM, K/J). Sunday is another panel day at Tinker St. Cinema/Upstate Films, covering a wide array of subjects including translation, mystery writing, cuisine, and publishing (see website for participants), a performance by singer/songwriter Bar Scott (11 AM, K/J), closing with “Stories from an Irish Master,” with best-selling author Colm Toibin (8 PM, K/J). Kleinert/James Arts Center, 34 Tinker St. 845.679.2079; Tinker St. Cinema/Upstate Films, 132 Tinker St., 845.679.6608, Woodstock. See for ticket and schedule info.

Through April- SUNY New Paltz Department of Theatre Arts presents NEW PLAY FESTIVAL (4/8-10), at the Parker Theatre; and TOMMY, by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff (4/28-5/8), at McKenna Theatre, SUNY New Paltz, New Paltz—Ever think for a moment: where do plays come from? How is it possible to compose and conceive a theatrical performance, with so many moving parts, that you never really know works or not until you can somehow get it performed? The answer is this: playwrights always need to workshop the plays, with a director, cast, technical personnel, and what’s called a “dramaturg,” which is somebody who watches the process unfold, and properly explains what’s happening to the playwright, who can then make adjustments in pacing, dialogue, whatever is needed. It’s what happens in the summer at Powerhouse Theater, Vassar, and its what will be happening this month at SUNY New Paltz as well, with their three-day New Play Festival (4/8-10), featuring select local plays with staged readings. Then later in the month it’s the musical version of The Who’s Tommy (4/28-5/8), which is quickly becoming the most popular go-to rock musical, thankfully supplanting the inexplicable reign of Andrew Lloyd Webber. And why not? Great story, great songs—“Amazing Journey”, “Pinball Wizard”, “See Me, Feel Me”—multiple fun staging possibilities for intrepid designers and directors. And somebody’s going to have a good time with Keith Moon’s indelible Uncle Ernie! Directed by Jack Wade. Parker Theatre, McKenna Theatre, SUNY New Paltz, 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz,, 845.257.3880. New Play Festival: Fr/Sa 4/8 & 9 8 PM, Sa/Su 4/9 & 10 2 PM. Tommy: Fr-Su 4/28-30, 5/5-7 8 PM, Su 5/1 & 8 2 PM

Fr/Sa/Su 4/8 through 4/17- CABARET, by Joe Masteroff, John Kander, and Fred Ebb, at Stageworks/Hudson, Hudson—Certainly, one of the best ways to incorporate song performance seamlessly into musical theatre is to have the action occurring at a nightclub or music venue, where sudden performance of accompanied song makes perfect theatrical sense. Few musicals have made better use of this device than Cabaret—book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb—the 1966 Broadway hit loosely based on the novel Goodbye to Berlin, by Christopher Isherwood. Though most associate the title with the 1972 Bob Fosse-directed movie version, starring Joel Grey as the EmCee—reprising his signature Broadway role—Michael York, and Liza Minnelli (Fosse, Grey, and Minnelli all collected Academy Awards in 1973), the stage version has its own special charms. For instance, Minnelli’s very American Sally Bowles is British, and York’s bisexual British writer Brian Roberts is straight American Cliff Bradshaw; and there’s no love triangle with the playboy baron, also not present. But though there are several significant differences in characters, and a few different songs, the compelling story still revolves around goings-on the seedy Kit Kat Klub in Berlin, during the threatening Nazi sweep to power in the 1930s. And in both versions, the show belongs to the EmCee, one of the juiciest, most gleefully amoral roles in musical theatre (most recently portrayed by Alan Cummings in recent Broadway revivals) a role that without a doubt will always be accompanied by the shadow of “OMC” Joel Grey. Stageworks/Hudson pulls out the stops this month, utilizing a full orchestra to bring full color to the hits: “Wilkommen”, “Two Ladies”, “The Money Song”, and, of course: “What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play…” Stageworks/Hudson, 41-A Cross St., Hudson,, 518.828.7843. Fr/Sa 8 PM, Su 3 PM

Sa 4/30- Center for Symbolic Studies presents 21st ANNUAL BELTANE FESTIVAL at Stone Mountain Farm, New Paltz­—They’ve got some pretty interesting things going on up at the Stone Mountain Farm outside of New Paltz: dreaming groups, a Joseph Campbell Roundtable discussing the late author’s signature subject of mythology, and (gulp) a Trapeze Club where those so inclined can (safely, I’m told) learn how to flip, swing, and catch. And with plenty of land space and a nice covered stage, they’re inclined to have a festival or two when the weather gets nice, starting with their annual Beltane Festival. This particular year has been designated the “Faerie Beltane 2011,” with previous Kings and Queens of the May join the pageantry. Yes, it’s what you might call a “Renaissance Fair,” but without a lot of the organized activities that implies: really, it’s mostly an excuse for dressing up and blowing a raspberry to Old Man Winter. Vendors are onsite with food and beverage (Beltane is an all-ages non-alcoholic event), arts and crafts, and Carl Welden MC’s an entertainment line-up that includes Vanaver Caravan, Stone Mountain Masquers & Singers, Aisling, and Barely Lace. The Beltane Procession and May Pageant takes place mid-afternoon, and the entertainment carries over into the Fire Dance, which ends before midnight. Music, puppets, magic, people dressed crazy, Spring in the air. Tempting, yes? Stone Mountain Farm, 475 River Rd. Ext., New Paltz,, 845.658.8540. 1-11 PM

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