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Voice Theatre conjures up a frothy, frisky Blithe Spirit at Byrdcliffe

Voice Theatre conjures up a frothy, frisky Blithe Spirit at Byrdcliffe

Thursday-Sunday, July 11-28: Though dense with the rapid-fire witty banter for which the playwright is renowned, Blithe Spirit’s tone is as lightweight as ectoplasm, treating the subject of death so casually that British audiences demoralized by their losses in World War II found the play a welcome tonic. Its West End run ran for 1,997 performances, setting a record at the time for non-musicals, and it quickly moved on to Broadway.

Producer to screen new Toni Morrison documentary at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck

Producer to screen new Toni Morrison documentary at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck

Saturday, July 13: Beloved won her the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award, and her body of work was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. In addition to being a writer for the ages, Morrison helped plenty of other black writers get published and taken seriously by critics during her 15 years at Random House, where she was the first black woman senior editor in the fiction department.

The Secret Garden cast is in fine voice at Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck

The Secret Garden cast is in fine voice at Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck

The musical adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved 1911 children’s novel by Lucy Simon (Carly’s sister)is varied in style and technically challenging. Elizabeth Thomas delivers a stunning vocal performance as Lily, whose death in childbirth led to her widower Archibald’s ban on anyone ever again entering the walled garden that was her favorite haunt in her lifetime.

See a musical about the worst song ever

See a musical about the worst song ever

July 11-21: When the question is raised, “What was the worst song ever recorded?” among the most popular answers is an offkey lament for a lost cat titled “My Pal Foot Foot.” It appeared on the album Philosophy of the World, released in 1969 by the Shaggs. It’s said that only 1,000 copies of the LP were pressed, and that the band’s manager absconded with 900 of them. Their strange story inspired Joy Gregory and Gunnar Madsen to write an “unconventional musical” called The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World, which premiered in Los Angeles in 2003 and is being performed at Catskills Bridge Street Theatre.

Phoenicia Fringe Festival runs July 5 through 14

Phoenicia Fringe Festival runs July 5 through 14

Fringe festivals, celebrating art whose nature falls far outside the mainstream, typically happen in large cities. The Village of Phoenicia would not seem a likely candidate, though it arguably lies at the outermost exurban fringe of the New York metropolitan area. Still, the Shandaken Theatrical Society has taken on the challenge of hosting its own such festival at the Phoenicia Playhouse for two weekends, July 5 through 7 and 12 through 14.