Brand-new blackbox theater opens in New Paltz plus October stage roundup

Stephen Nachamie will direct Denizen’s inaugural production, Cal in Camo, and the cast includes Valerie Lynn Brett, Michael Siktberg, John Hartzell and Craig Patrick Browne.

This week, a brand-new not-for-profit professional theatrical venue makes its debut in New Paltz. Called Denizen Theatre, the blackbox-style performance space was constructed this summer on the upper level of the Water Street Market.

Denizen’s inaugural production is the regional premiere of Cal in Camo, written by William Francis Hoffman and previously seen only at Manhattan’s Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and in Chicago. Set in rural Illinois, the play “explores the nature of fractured family bonds and offers insights into how the wounds of our past irrevocably impact our capacity for sustaining human connection.” Denizen Theatre’s co-artistic director Ben Williamson terms it “a contemporary Death of a Salesman.” Stephen Nachamie will direct; the cast includes Valerie Lynn Brett as Cal, Michael Siktberg as Tim, John Hartzell as Flynt and Craig Patrick Browne as the Bar Owner.

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Cal in Camo will have its preview performance on Thursday, October 11, its official opening on October 12 and thereafter run Wednesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. through November 4. Tickets cost $24 for general admission, $60 for a season subscription, $15 for people under the age of 30 and $5 for students with ID. To reserve, call (845) 303-4136 or visit www.denizentheatre.com/tickets. Note to parents: This production contains adult content and brief nudity. Denizen Theatre is wheelchair-accessible; enter from the upper parking lot of Water Street Market at 10 Main Street in New Paltz.

Cal in Camo
Oct. 11-Nov. 4
Wednesday-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m.
$24/$15/$5
Denizen Theatre
Water Street Market
10 Main St.
New Paltz
(845) 303-4136
www.denizentheatre.com/tickets

Dialectics & the dead in Rhinebeck, Ellenville, Phoenicia, Kingston

Here’s the bad news for fans of live theater: The summer stage season has come to an end once again. But that only means that regional theater troupes are beginning to trot out their fall offerings, so it’s actually good news. There’ll be less Shakespeare on offer, true, and probably fewer musical comedies; but cooler weather seems to give audiences an appetite for chewier fare. And if froth is what you really crave and you look hard enough, you’re bound to find some at any time of year.

Amongst the upcoming attractions on local stages, probably the most light is Ghost: The Musical, opening this Friday, October 12 at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck and running weekends through October 28. It’s a romantic phantasmagorical fantasy based on the 1990 movie Ghost, which starred Patrick Swayze as a dreamy dead guy, Demi Moore as his endangered widow and Whoopi Goldberg as a storefront psychic. The musical version is written and composed by Bruce Joel Rubin, Dave Stewart and Glenn Ballard (plus a little boost from “Unchained Melody”).

Performances of Ghost: The Musical begin at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with Sunday matinées at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $27 and $25. To order, call (845) 876-3080 or visit https://bit.ly/2pK3Oc7. The Center for Performing Arts is located at 661 Route 308, 3.5 miles east of downtown Rhinebeck.

“A timely new play that will ring true for our audience and community…a beautifully told story about family, loyalty and the difficult allegiances often encountered within a small-town life” is how Shadowland Stages artistic director Brendan Burke describes Papermaker, a drama by novelist Monica Wood that has just had its Hudson Valley premiere at the Ellenville venue, wrapping up Shadowland’s highly successful 2018 season. Stephanie Zimbalist, familiar to many as former TV detective Remington Steele, stars in this tale about a paper mill strike in rural Maine in 1989.

In Papermaker, Ernie Donahue (John Pietrowski) is a striking worker taking care of his dying wife Marie (Zimbalist) and, inexplicably, spending his off-time building an ark in his backyard. Their son Jake (Ed Rosini) has threatened to cross the picket line, sending their family into turmoil. Meanwhile, company owner Henry McCoy (Steve Brady) has been convinced by his estranged daughter Emily (Becca Ballenger) to join her for a weekend in an effort to reconnect. Friendly negotiations are off the table when both families end up in the same living room the very night the strike takes an ugly turn.

The show opened on October 6 and will run Thursdays through Sundays through October 21. Tickets cost $39 for 8 p.m. evening shows and $34 for 2 p.m. Sunday matinées. To order, visit the Shadowland box office at 157 Canal Street in Ellenville or www.shadowlandstages.org.

Confrontations between labor activists and one-percenters not weighty enough subject matter for you? How about an incendiary drama by a master of the modern form that seems ripped from last week’s Judiciary Committee hearings? When David Mamet’s Oleanna had its Off-Broadway premiere 25 years ago, in the wake of the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill controversy, New York Times critic Frank Rich pronounced it “likely to provoke more arguments than any play this year.” According to Harold Pinter, “There can be no tougher or more unflinching play than Oleanna.”

The plot concerns a series of confrontations between John, a college professor up for tenure, and Carol, a student who accuses him of sexual harassment. David Smilow and Geneva Turner portray the adversaries in the Phoenicia Playhouse’s new production of Oleanna, directed by Michael Koegel. It opened on October 5 and runs through October 21, with Friday and Saturday shows at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinées at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $20 general admission, $18 for seniors and students. For reservations, call (845) 688-2279 or visit https://phoeniciaplayhouse.com. The Playhouse is located at 10 Church Street in Phoenicia.

When real life and fiction vie for the crown of which is meaner, sometimes the days of yore offer a more appealing respite. Cemetery tours are a popular diversion during the Halloween season, drawing on the distant past to deliver some pleasurable gooseflesh in the present. There are several fine venues in our history-rich region where you can check out such offerings. At Kingston’s Old Dutch Church, the tour guides, Frank Marquette’s Theatre on the Road company, have a wealth of experience in murder-mystery dinner theater, impersonating Edgar Allen Poe and suchlike creepy entertainment.

The one-hour Living History Cemetery Tours return to this historic burial ground for a fourth year at 7 p.m. each Saturday this October. Guests will meet six “ghosts” in authentic costumes, each representing a historical figure who played an important role in the community between 1659 and 1910: Esopus-Indian War combatant Jacob Adriansen, artists John Vanderlyn and Julia Dillon, Civil War general George Sharp, philanthropist Mary Forsyth and clergyman Roswell Randal Hoes. Tickets cost $15 general admission, $10 for students, $1 for kids aged 12 and under. To purchase, visit www.theatreontheroad.com or call (845) 475-7973.

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