L to R: Sean Mathias (director); Keith Bunin (Playwright); Beth Dixon Actress); Carter Hudson (Actor) - Photo courtesy of Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater

New York Stage and Film at Vassar’s Powerhouse Theater: 2015

by Adele Jones

Vassar and New York Stage and Film return for Powerhouse Theater’s 31st season which will run from June 26 to August 2 on the Vassar campus in Poughkeepsie. As theater lovers know, this is a short season with limited seating and with almost 250 artists ready to entertain us with 25 new theater pieces, booking tickets early would be sage advice.

Powerhouse is and has been an essential part of the Hudson Valley’s extraordinary cultural landscape, introducing us to plays, actors and directors who have changed the face of American theater. Again this season, we have our chance to see theatrical experiments before they go to Broadway and/​or Paris.

The Unbuilt City-Rehearsal-Carter Hudson and Beth Dixon- Photo by Buck Lewis

The Unbuilt City-​​Rehearsal-​​Carter Hudson and Beth Dixon– Photo by Buck Lewis

On the Mainstage, Keith Bunin’s (The Busy World Is Hushed, The Credeaux Canvas) The Unbuilt City, directed by Sean Mathias (Waiting for Godot/​No Man’s Land), receives its world premiere on July 1 and plays through July 12. The play, staring Beth Dixon and Carter Hudson, is ostensibly about a business meeting but reveals a series of mysteries about the the nature of love, legacy and the untold history of New York City.

The Light Years, by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, developed and directed by Oliver Butler and made by The Debate Society (Jacuzzi, Blood Play), runs from July 23 to August 2. It crafts a love story spanning 40 years at the Chicago World’s Fairs of 1873 and 1933 and offers the audacious vision of Steele McKaye, a now obscure mogul. The play paints a spectacularly vivid world of forgotten futures and the indomitable spirit of invention.

Three musical workshops will be offered this summer, all with fascinating stories. Rain, based on the famous Somerset Maugham short story, with book by Sybille Pearson (Baby, Giant), music and lyrics by Michael John La Chiusa (Giant, The Wild Party) and directed by Barry Edelstein (Steve Martin’s The Underpants, Nathan Englander’s The Twenty-​​Seventh Man) retells the tale of two couples confined on a South Sea island whose lives are exploded by Sadie Thompson, a woman with a dark past and a bottle of good whiskey. From July 10 – 12.

Loving V. Virginia, with book and lyrics by Marcus Gardley (The House That Will Not Stand), music by Justin Ellingon (Stagger Lee) and conceived by Patricia McGregor, runs from July 17 – 19 and is a soulful period musical set in 1958 when a black woman and a white man dared to defy Virginia’s miscegenation laws and married. Their story sparked not only a fire-​​storm in their community, but a Supreme Court landmark decision.

From July 31-​​to August 2, Noir, with music by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), book by Kyle Jarrow (Whisper House) and lyrics by both, and directed by Rachel Chavkin (Natasha), pulls in its audience with the secret thrill of overhearing others’ private converstions. Alone in his apartment, he becomes obsessed with the lust, lies, deceit and danger he hears in his neighbor’s apartment.

In Workshops, Desire, six new one-​​act plays by six of our best contemporary playwrights inspired by the short stories of Tennessee Williams, will be performed between July 2 and July 5. They will be directed by Michael Wilson (The Trip to Bountiful ). The playwrights are: Elizabeth Egloff, Marcus Gardley, Rebecca Gilman, David Grimm, John Guare, and Beth Henley.

The Last Match, by Anna Ziegler (Photograph 51) and directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch (Bethany), on July 17 – 19, takes us inside the minds of two extraordinary tennis players who contemplate athleticism, masculinity, and marriage as they do battle under the lights of center court. By match point, much more has been won and lost than a game of tennis.

Two reading festivals of five plays and a musical are scheduled for June 26 – 28 and July 31-​​August 2.

The Powerhouse Apprentice Company has a full season as well, with Twelfth Night (July 10 – 12) and Much Ado About Nothing (July 23 – 25 and Caryl Churchill’s Vinegar Tom (July 17 – 19) plus workshop performances of new plays. All of Apprentice shows are free.

For more about the shows, writers, directors and actors, as well as a full performance schedule with calendar, subscription rates and ticket prices, visit the Powerhouse Theater website here:
For tickets call the Box Office @ 845 – 437-​​5599.

See you there!

Featured image: L to R: Sean Mathias (Director); Keith Bunin (Playwright); Beth Dixon (Actress); Carter Hudson (Actor) - Photo courtesy of Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater


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