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May Theatre Highlights

Fr/Sa 5/6 & 7- Starling Productions presents TOO MUCH INFORMATION (original theatre), at Shadowland Theatre, Ellenville—If there is one sure thing in the Hudson Valley of New York, it’s that we have a pretty powerful female presence in the regional theatre and cinema scene (can you say Academy Award-winner Melissa Leo?). Funds have been raised in recent years for women’s causes by some of these extraordinarily talented women, thanks to performances of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, the amorphous collection of up-close-and-personal autobiographies that has become something of a feminist phenomenon over the last decade. After two successful TVM fundraisers for Hope’s Fund (a grass-roots organization empowering women in Ulster County), Starling Productions decided to develop a new work in a similar vein last year. Their original Too Much Information employed the same concept of intimately personal stories, though generally not quite as lower chakra-driven, recounted by the writers themselves…who incidentally are not always actors. This year, Starling’s Eva Tenuto and Julie Novak—who recently staged a dynamic all-female Glengarry Glen Ross, by David Mamet, at the Rosendale Theatre—have again assembled a fascinating group with their wide range of stories, bringing the show to the venerable Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, whose 2011 season fires up in early June. Shadowland Theatre, 157 Canal St., Ellenville,, 845.647.5511. 8 PM

5/6 through 22- Johnny Dell presents THE FULL MONTY (musical), by Terrence McNally and David Yazbek, at The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, Rhinebeck—When the 1997 film version of The Full Monty first came out, with its gritty portrayal of unemployed steel workers in the U.K.—complete with harsh language, controversial subject matter, and (gulp) male nudity—it should be seriously doubted that ANYONE was thinking “hey, this could make for great musical theatre.” But the movie turned out to be a major comedy hit with a great story: six unemployed Sheffield steel men, all with their share of difficulties with money, family, and identity, decide to form a Chippendale’s-style dance show in which the finale is going “the full monty.” Or if you will, no loincloth. The film’s success made the premise hard to resist for the stage, and in 2000 the musical version—book by Terrence McNally, score by David Yazbek—premiered at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego before making its triumphant run on Broadway, garnering Tony and Drama Desk Awards galore. Though Americanized, substituting Buffalo for Sheffield, the musicals’ story is pretty much the same, although film fans may miss the finale number not being underscored by Tom Jones’ randy version of Randy Newman’s You Can Leave Your Hat On. And will they go all the way? The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, 661 Rte. 308, Rhinebeck,, 845.876.3080. Fr/Sa 8 PM, Su 3 PM

Fr-Su 5/27 through 29- New Genesis Productions Youth Theatre presents Shakespeare’s HAMLET, at the Byrdcliffe Theatre, Woodstock—Full disclosure: I do not personally love Hamlet. (Though not a hater, mind you.) God knows I’ve seen it a billion times, heck, even sat through the Mel Gibson movie, for reasons I can’t adequately explain. But truly, it’s downright agonizing to watch sometimes: great language, moments and flashes of plot bound with constant dithering, self doubt, inaction. Like being a….teenager! Hey wait a minute, Hamlet IS a teenager, right? Woops, sorry, I meant young person. Anyway, it makes sense to have the principals in Hamlet played by young people, helps you realize it is actually more of a strange coming of age story, albeit with some odd Oedipal twists. And of course, everybody dies. But hey, I like the idea of this upcoming New Genesis Productions Youth Theatre performance, up at the scenic and historic Byrdcliffe Theatre, just up the hill a ways from Woodstock. The location lends itself nicely to the brooding nature of the play and it’s a select group of young talent that has been studying and exploring the work since last November. And for those interested, New Genesis has an upcoming 2011 Summer Shakespeare Intensive, in two groups running from July 10 through August 4, covering A Midsummer Night’s Dream and A Comedy of Errors (see website). Byrdcliffe Theater, Upper Byrdcliffe Rd., Woodstock,, 845.657.5867. Fr 5/27 7 PM, Sa 5/28 2 & 7 PM, Su 5/29 4 PM

Fr 5/6- Thin Edge Films and Club Helsinki presents a benefit performance for the film THIRSTY, featuring THIRSTY BURLINGTON, with MUSTY CHIFFON and STEPHEN BLUHM, at Club Helsinki, Hudson—Some people absolutely must be filmed; such is surely the case of anyone who can be said to impersonate Cher “better than Cher does Cher.” Scott Townsend is the versatile drag celebrity impersonator and performance artist Thirsty Burlington, who has inhabited—along with his iconic Cher—Michael Jackson, Edie Beale, and a sloshy latter-day Judy Garland, playing to full houses coast to coast for the last 20 years. Thin Edge Films’ Margo Pelletier and Lisa Thomas (Freeing Silvia Baraldini) have in mind a film they refer to as a “Post Queer Musical,” exploring and celebrating the fluidity of gender exemplified by Thirsty’s performance, employing the all-important music, comedy, and dance elements, to “move the story line forward, and enliven the more educational themes of resilience, self-invention, and gender.” But alas, independent film ideas like these need to utilize innovative fundraising techniques, so Thin Edge Films—with Club Helsinki Hudson—features a performance by none other than Thirsty herself, with very special guests Hudson’s own “performance artist/rockstar” Musty Chiffon, and 1920’s cat Stephen Bluhm. Should be a wild night, with all proceeds going to the making of Thirsty, the film. Club Helsinki, 405 Columbia St.,, 518.828.4800. 9 PM

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