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Still time to catch a little theater this summer

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It seems obvious that the first rule of life is to have a good time – Brendan Gill, “Here at The New Yorker”

August is winding down, things are slow and you’re wondering what to do next. Hopefully you realize that life is too serious to be taken seriously. Take politics for instance – you may have heard that local elections are coming up. On the positive side, your mailbox is full and all those robo-calls mean somebody knows your number. TV news leads with crime and natural disasters, sports emphasize those who game the system and the moviemakers seem to have forgotten about adults. Anyway, the air conditioning works (don’t worry about the electric bill) and the New York Mets are competitive (mostly), so why complain.

Let’s say you’ve already had your vacation and you’re not out at the beach building sand castles. You want to have a good time at the theater – since you read this column you know that’s a smart thing to do – but money is in short supply, and it’s not likely that you’re going to win the lottery any time soon. And maybe, just maybe, you want to be in a show, to get up on stage and be an actor.

Perhaps the first place to look for theater happenings in Queens is Spotlight On Stage, founded by Charlene Greenberg. The site (www.SpotlightonStage.com) has been around for a long time and it lists most of the local groups, along with some Brooklyn and Long Island ones, with links to each company. You’ll find out what’s playing and who’s holding auditions for what.

Then there’s Debbie Starker’s weekly newsletter Deb’s Web (www.debsliweb.homestead.com), a must read for those in the theater community. Its chatty style highlights groups on the Island but Queens also gets a few mentions.

Speaking of Ms. Starker, I saw her a few weeks ago as a mother-from-hell in “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” by Martin McDonagh. I had to find my way to the Bare Bones Theater Company in Northport, but it was definitely worth the trip. Although I seldom give in to superlatives, this production was exceptional, and confirmed my opinion that a good play with good actors, guided by a good director, is all you need for a wonderful theater experience. The rest of the four-person cast consisted of Linda May (an Outrageous Fortune alumnus), James Staehlin and Sean King, and the director was Jeff Bennett. All I can say is Wow!

A colorful source for various theater opportunities, such as available rental space and where to get headshots, as well as suggestions for what’s playing, can be found at www.LocalTheatreNY.com, compiled by Roger Gonzalez. This site is quite elaborate and covers all the boroughs.

New to the online theater promotion scene is Theatre Beyond Broadway, dished out by the dynamic Malini Singh McDonald. Malini has her own company, Black Henna Productions, and if you’re a friend of hers – she’s very friendly – she’ll be happy to publicize what you’re up to.

One hundred years ago Actors’ Equity Association was founded to protect the rights of actors. It has thrived ever since, and just about all the actors you see on Broadway and Off are members of that union. This elevates them to a “professional” status and usually indicates top quality. However, most of the actors who perform locally are not members of Equity, but they are often just as good as their more commercial brethren.

So don’t miss out – see some shows in Queens this season.

Contact Ron Hellman at RBH24@Columbia.edu

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Reader Feedback

Larry Bloom from Flushing says:
I'm a big supporter of community theater and Theatre Time does a great job of bringing drama and comedies to Queens audiences. I've also worked with some of the talented people in the cast--It's well worth the money to see shows at a fraction of Broadway prices!
Oct. 3, 2013, 4:15 pm

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