Performing Arts of Woodstock [PAW] will be 50 next season. At the moment that feels like 49 consecutive miracles in a row. Despite a solid string of very strong shows, lousy logistics dog the company, primarily in the form of a rogue-ish re-model of Town Hall, sure to shrink PAW’s shoe-box of a theater by a half size. On nights court isn’t in session, that is. While Town Supervisor, Jeremy Wilbur vows support (and well he should — his first run for office hinged upon a series of plays he penned and starred in, lampooning the-then highly fragrant issue of a town sewer), these days PAW’s hopes hang on a yet-to-be budgeted Les Walker design for an addition on the existing Community Center. The proposed building includes plans for a “shared” PAW home, and but for such half-born hopes, the company survives with no “official” town sponsorship. Though PAW president Edie Le Fever, (“Mother Courage” to local theater folk) seldom complains, with several other new theater companies nipping at her heels, PAW has little choice but to soldier on.
Astoundingly, despite these and other challenges, this year’s annual Winterfest fund-raiser, looks and sounds like a million bucks, largely due to the vision of Christa Trinler, a hugely energetic actor, producer, and board member.
Entitled: Forbidden Fruits, this year’s gala will work well to ward off the cold with heat — human heat, otherwise known as sex, albeit it of a whimsical variety. The intimate black box feel of the venue, Utopia Soundstage in Bearsville, is sure to provide the perfect provocative environment for a highly entertaining evening, including but not limited to: broadly romantic and sensual poetry, innuendo-laced song, and some delightfully bawdy, naughty, and occasionally ridiculous comedy. Additional alcoholic libations promises to lubricate the lascivious proceedings, and a fabulous lite buffet of aphrodisiac-infused foods await sampling as provided by Kathy Miller. (I predict a melange of tamarinds, mangos, persimmons and pomegranites glazed with a ginseng roux.)
We are to expect a lavish stage filled with tapestries, oriental rugs, large pillows and ottomans. And because the Utopia soundstage (thanks to originator Todd Rundgren) has a “full-on” light rack above, as well as splendiferous amplification throughout the event should prove a special occasion for friends of PAW, especially for those of legal age.
Local testaments of tremendous talent will include the beautiful Ann Osmond and almost-as-cute Dennis Yerry who will perform three songs, including the wonderful “Too Close for Comfort” as well “Don’t You Feel My Leg,” (which Maria Muldaur used to “sign” for the deaf, seated at the bar of the old Joyous Lake). Robert Burke Warren, fresh from his success in PAW’s “The Dumb Waiter,” will provide us with a Prince song (back from when the artist was actually known as “Prince”) and a spoken version of Leonard Cohen’s killer: “A Thousand Kisses Deep.” (Uncle Rock fans under 12 will be fined and accompanied home.) The lovely Christa Trinler and the highly talented Ron Morehead will investigate the dark and deep first act of Greg Owen’s “Girls Fart Too.” Ron will then attempt to more seriously redeem himself with a famously obscene ee cummings poem. Another from that poet — the charmingly risque “May I feel” will be enthused and effused by the effervescent Joyce Romano, soon joined by hilarious Audrey Rapoport (who can be funny and provocative, both — and note: she teaches…) when the two serve up the first act of Dean Lundquist’s “Finger Food.” The evening will close with a highly under-clad ensemble piece from the last act from “O Calcutta” — sorry — make that “Cabaret.” And there’ll be a reading of the marvelous Pablo Neruda poem, “Your Hands”.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a corporate sponsor…or even just a filthy rich widow — were to adopt PAW for a pet? Well, it hasn’t happened and though the Utopia sound-stage is a perfect stop-gap it won’t come cheap. That’s right — back to the wall — PAW digs deep asking for help…doesn’t seem fair, somehow. So come out to support “the little company that could” with a marvelous night of Forbidden Fruit. Doors open at 7 p.m. for an 8 p.m. show on Saturday, January 26 at the Utopia Soundstage behind WDST in the Bear Complex. Tickets are $35 for adults, $30 for seniors (includes buffet, dessert, beverage and show — cash bar). For reservations call 845-679-7900 or visit www.PerformingArtsofWoodstock.org.