Weekend Arts Round-up

Philipstown is a hub of arts activity

Philipstown, though small in size, has an out-sized arts community presenting a variety of events throughout the year. Both professional and amatuer, and sometimes a combination of the two occur with regularity. Last weekend (Nov. 18-20) had an abundance of events to choose from. Click the underlined text to see short videos.

Carl Howell (L) and Patrick Halley as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

A Play About Two Guys Trying to Get Out of a Play
Readings of plays, as opposed to fully staged performances, are naked affairs wherein the playwright’s language and the voices and facial expressions of the actors are the only tools for the conveyance of narrative intent and theatrical meaning. Without costumes, a set, lighting, or props, an audience and the players must generate a world mostly through their own imaginations.

Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is a particularly tantalizing play for a reading because it is about characters in a play who wonder about the meaning of their lives as apparent minor players in a play. They question what they are doing in the story, how they got there (where?) and what the story is doing to them and what other characters are really up to in the same or is it parallel stories. The audience knows the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are in is Hamlet, but of course the characters are involved in organizing the performance of another play wherein Prince Hamlet intends to “catch the conscience of the King.”

The play, performed with flair and bonhomie by players from the World’s End Theater Company on Sat. Nov. 19 at the 69 Main St. offices of Philipstown.info, overflows with philosophical introspection and humorously grim and grimly humorous observations about immortality and eternity. Filled with inside jokes containing inside jokes, theater lovers can feast upon a cornucopia of language while empathizing with the plight of the hapless pair as they wonder about what the past can tell them about the future and whether the present is ever really the real present.

An homage to both the English language’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare who wrote of kings and princes and the destiny of nations and arguably the 20th-century’s greatest, Samuel Beckett, who wrote of the lowliest of the world finding humor amidst their befuddlement and pain, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is in part a mash-up of Waiting for Godot meets Hamlet with other sly theater references abounding.

With Carl Howell and Patrick Healy playing the lead characters along with a game supporting cast, the company clearly relished their intimate interaction with a charmed audience of 50 or more people. ~ Kevin E. Foley

Did he or didn’t he?
The 400-year old question of just who really wrote the plays of Shakespeare can still spark some lively debate, as demonstrated again on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 20, by the conversation with journalist Mark Anderson, author of Shakespeare by Another Name (Gotham, 2005), at the Depot Theatre. Sponsored by World’s End Theatre to coincide with their previous night’s reading of Tom Stoppard’s Hamlet-inspired Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, as well as with the opening of the film Anonymous, the event proved about 50 locals had enough interest to devote a lovely autumn afternoon to learning more about the issue. Anderson presented in the form of a dialogue with Gordon Stewart, publisher of philipstown.info, who fielded questions from the audience in addition to those submitted in advance by email. Citing Charles Dickens’s 19th-century observation that the true identity of Shakespeare is a “fine mystery,” Anderson explained the trail of evidence that he believes points to Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, as the author of the works attributed to Shakespeare, “rather than the actor named William from Stratford.” The issue has long provoked a war of words between the so-called “Oxfordians” and “Stratfordians.” Although no official Stratfordian was on hand to rebut Anderson’s argument, the audience responded with a polite and healthy mixture of belief and skepticism. The truth may never out in this case, but as the Bard observed, “the play’s the thing.” ~Mary Anne Myers

Savoca and Heitzman

Karen Savoca
Singer/songwriter Karen Savoca performed an intimate set at Philipstown.info’s space Savoca is a fixture on the acoustic music scene performing a unique blend of folk/jazz, accompanied by partner, Pete Heitzman, on guitar. The duo has performed together for more than 20 years, but retains a spontaneous and improvisational style. Playing conga and hand percussion, Savoca infuses the music with a love of Soul, R&B, and World rhythms. Savoca puts her heart into a song the way a great actor throws herself into a role, charming audiences with a supple alto and a boundless range of expression. As a songwriter, she draws the audience into her world of humor and compassion, telling stories with grace and ease. ~Michelle Rubin

 Lions Club Variety Talent Show
A happy, upbeat atmosphere was pervasive at the second edition of the Cold Spring Lions Club Variety Show. This year’s emcee was WHUD radio personality and Philipstowner Kacey Morabito. She proved an adept host, chatting briefly with each act to introduce them to the encouraging audience. The evening was dedicated to the family of Haldane music and band teacher Debbie Contini, who tragically lost her young son last week. The Continis were honored by a moving rendition of Reach The Place by four members of the Labriola family halfway through the first act.

The Motherlode Trio opened up the evening with their beautiful harmonies. They were followed by an eclectic mix of acts, heavy on girls (of all ages) with guitars and ukuleles, but also including electric violin from Daisy Jopling; two inspirational songs from the Walter Hoving Home Choir Walter Hoving Choir; a talk about the Lions Club’s involvement with Guiding Eyes for the Blind by Curt Landtroop; a Bob Fosse dance number from the “Steam Heat Dancers” and the Lions Club members (including the she won’t mind if we mention it ‘over eighty-years-old bundle of energy known as Betty Budney) rapping and showing their hip hop moves to Rockin’ The Vest!

Singer Lisa Sabin closed out the evening with a rendition of We Can Be Kind, tying in the lyrics of the song to the Lions Club’s mission of service to the community. The crowd cheered on all of the performers, and the evening’s goal of raising funds for the Lions Club scholarship fund, was well accomplished.

Performers (in order of appearance) were: Motherlode (Stacy Labriola, Patti Pelican, Terry Platz); Fred, Kaelin and Marina Martin; Harper Levy, Lucy Austin, Sophia Ptacek, Bella Convertino, Mary Costigan, Curt Landtroop, Lindy, Sara, Stacy and Art Labriola; Rose Lindbergh, Kathleen Pemble, Aurora Straus, Daisy Jopling, The Cold Spring Lions, the Walter Hoving Home Choir, Open Book (Michele Rubin and Rick Gedney), Mary and Jim Mechalakos, Mimi Longo and Lisa Sabin. Sound was run by John Teagle with assistance on stage from Kathleen Pemble; lights by Tyler Mell, and Stacy Labriola coordinated the talent. ~ Alison Rooney

Randi Russo
The Living Room presented Randi Russo. Russo is a master at weaving emotion and smarts, thoughts from the head and feelings from the heart. In a day and age when people have unfortunately accepted that a record should sound monotonous throughout, Russo continues to do her own thing – unapologetically, she writes the songs she needs to write and records them the way they need to be recorded – always serving the song.

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