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For another Valentine’s Day, I offer the gift of revisiting The Outrageous Fortune Company, my very own theater company, 17 years and 50 productions at Queens Theatre in the Park, still homeless and out of action for three years this May. Perhaps, in return, one of you faithful readers will lead me to a benefactor who will locate a new venue for our rebirth.
Take a look at www.OutrageousFortuneCompany.com to see the titles of all our productions since the company’s official debut in November 1993. All the choices come under the heading of “contemporary plays of significance,” and, somewhat surprising, most have not been done since by other Queens or Long Island groups.
Each season Manhattan stages offer several compelling and worthy new plays, but their commercial runs are relatively brief due to economic realities – namely, the tourists opt for the big musicals and the celebrity stars, almost always passing on these gems. So the opportunity exists to give the discerning theatergoer the experience to see these plays this side of the East River at a much lower price and at a more convenient venue.
Most local groups select light comedies and mysteries, old plays with name recognition and traditional musicals, based on the conventional wisdom that this is what the theater public wants to see. A lot of empty seats seem to refute this logic. I have argued that changing demographics and the necessity to attract a more youthful audience requires a different approach.
The local acting pool is also not what it used to be. Although many fine actors are still around, it has become increasingly difficult to cast a play well. That could change by finding roles for members of our diverse “minority” population and producing more challenging and contemporary work.
For those who are looking for audition notices and who want to find out what’s playing, Roger Gonzalez’ new-and-improved online site LocalTheatreNY is the place to go. SpotlightonStage remains a good resource, as well as the chatty Deb’s Web.
Variations Theatre Group in Long Island City continues to impress with its recent production of “After The Fall,” by Arthur Miller. When I saw it on a Thursday night, the place was packed. At the new Chain Theatre, Scott Casper and his tax deductible theatre will be the first renter at the space with the world premiere of “#hero,” playing February 22 to March 9.
The always reliable Parkside Players of Forest Hills, led by long-time President Glenn Rivano, presents the Queens debut of “The 39 Steps,” opening this Saturday through March 2. My favorite bilingual company, the Thalia Spanish Theatre, is running its latest tango show, and if you’re lucky, you may still be able to sign up for its Tango Dance Workshop For Beginners – if Al Pacino can do it, why can’t you!
In Bayside, Larry Bloom’s Theatre By The Bay has a version of “The Wizard of Oz” starting on March 2, worth showing up if only to see Isabel Robin as the girl who finds out that she’s not in Kansas anymore, and Jean Ann Kump as her nemesis, the Wicked Witch of the West.
If you want to catch one of our great playwrights, Edward Albee – his “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” is now revived on Broadway – get a ticket to the Queens College Evening Readings and be at its Music Building on March 5 at 7 pm.
Contact Ron Hellman at rbh24@Columbia.edu.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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