This weekend in Rhinebeck, Rip Van Winkle is waking up after a two-decade snooze – in more ways than one. The original version of Michael Berkeley and Ray Roderick’s Rip! The Musical first saw the light of day 20 years ago on the stage of TriArts in Pine Plains, where Berkeley was musical director, but it needed work. Berkeley followed TriArts when it relocated to Sharon, Connecticut and served as its artistic director from 1999 to 2012, meanwhile scoring something of a critical hit with his and Roderick’s Irving Berlin tribute musical I Love a Piano.
But in the intervening years, Berkeley and Roderick continued tinkering with Rip! The Musical, and were committed to seeing a new and improved version premiere in the Hudson Valley one day, in honor of its local protagonist. That day has finally come: The “world premiere” of Rip! Mach II will be presented on Friday, July 17 at 8 p.m. at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck. A second evening performance will follow on Saturday at 8, with 3 p.m. matinées on both Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19.
“This is the first chance to see the new script and score onstage,” says Berkeley. “Rip! takes a more personal look at relationships, and several characters have undergone significant changes since the original inception. The notion of forgiveness is examined after Rip returns from his 20-year absence.” Can we read that to mean that the “nagging wife” stereotype of Dame Van Winkle has undergone a bit of feminist-friendly rehabilitation to suit changing times? Come on out to Rhinebeck this weekend and see for yourself.
Berkeley himself directs, and Rip! The Musical stars Jarek Zabczynski, Lori Belter and Lou Trapani as Peter Vanderdonk. The cast of 30 also includes Lisa Lynds, Michael Britt, Amy LeBlanc, Melissa Matthews and Frank McGinnis. Tickets for this show that Berkeley terms “a valentine to the Hudson Valley” cost $27 and $25. For reservations and more information, call (845) 876-3080 or visit https://ripthemusical.com or www.centerforperformingarts.org.
Rip! The Musical, Friday/Saturday, July 17/18, 8 p.m., Saturday/Sunday, July 18/19, 3 p.m., $27/$25, Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, 661 Route 308, Rhinebeck, (845) 876-3080, www.centerforperformingarts.org.