Humanity’s Hall of Mirrors; Its Drugless Drug

Taking a deep breath and peering out through her fading eyes, a love of 57 years shifts her gaze to her husband. He sits as full of life as a recoiling heart ready to feed life-blood to a starved figure. Tears flow like lost treasures down his cheek; that stern cheek that had been dry these many years.

In the light and company of his new found congregation of gathered neighbors in this world, a father, who is of usual wrought with concern for the daily duty of watching over his children, turns to see his entire family laughing in one crystalline moment. His teenage daughter, whose eyes and forehead have already begun to furrow with too much concern, is now animated; ablaze like a star, with joy for the first time in their past 6 years.

With eyes fixed on the lights ahead of her, a woman who lost her son finds release in the human and angelic transmissions that move and resound before her. The air entering her lungs rides the landscape of her rugged history like a waterfall of some forgotten oasis. She truly breathes for the first time in 21 years. The hand of her wife slips silently into hers. They are transformed.

A young man stares at the stage, as if looking into a mirror for the first time and seeing an illuminated self. In this coming year, he will no longer cower in the company of his classmates and professors. He will rise with a voice and self-image that will take him on a new path, raising him to become a leader in his community and nation.

Without a drug, in the company of a full and public place, all of these human beings have come back to life; back to their own deeply important self-truths. Each is an independent and singular collection of genes, incidents and energies that no other could truly understand.

Such moments as these have happened this year in the audiences of the Woodstock Playhouse. The Theater is an honoring of Humanity and Understanding; and when prepared correctly, the medicine of humankind.

So please, I have no pride and do indeed beg you; when you consider bolstering the fine work of a Non-Profit in your community, state or nation, know that the work of the theater is not to be dismissed or overlooked. The souls of our humanity are underserved in our present state of the nation. Non-Profit Theaters need your monetary assistance to reach the full potential of their humanitarian works in our society.

Search out your local, state or national theater, or visit www.WoodstockPlayhouse.org to make a contribution and raise a toast to their important work in the days ahead in this coming New Year.

Cheers to you and yours for a bright New Year.

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Give Yourself “A Major Award” this Holiday Season!

There’s only one Classic Holiday Movie that can claim the phrase, “It’s a major award!” Now that movie comes to life on the stage of the Woodstock Playhouse as one of the finest musicals around this holiday season: ‘A Christmas Story’, the musical!

It's A Major Award!

It's A Major Award! Photo by Leslie Dawson

From the red-hot tap number, ‘You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out’ featuring Miss Shields, to the unforgettable rousing number ‘Ralphie to the Rescue’, all of the outrageous adventures of Ralphie and the Parker Family will bring the treasured gift of laughter to you and your family.

Each scene from the movie comes alive before your eyes, including the moment Flick’s tongue gets frozen to the flagpole, Ralphie saves everyone from the villains, and that golden moment when he helps his old man change the tire; and that’s just the beginning!

The comic timing and voices of the professional leads will satisfy beyond compare when teamed with rising youth talent trained at the Woodstock Playhouse’s official Conservatory for the Arts, all under the direction of Randy Conti.

For laughter and a holiday event that is about family and love – the real holiday tradition, ‘A Christmas Story’ is your best bet. Whether for the whole family or a night out with a friend or spouse, it’ll tickle your funny bone and touch your heart.

Performances are December 9th thru the 11th; Friday & Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. with live pit orchestra under the direction of Bobby Tomasulo, professional leads and top-notch rising youth talent. Tickets are $32, $36 & $40 and are available at the door, online at www.WoodstockPlayhouse.org or by phone at 845-679-6900.

Honored Sponsors of the event are Aqua Jet Pools and Spas owned by the Turck Family, and by Mr. Jack T. Creviston.

‘A Christmas Story’ is presented by the Woodstock Playhouse Production Company, a project of the Non-profit Pan American Dance Foundation, Inc., cultivating respect and appreciation for Arts through excellence in performance and education in our community.

‘A Christmas Story’; Book by Joseph Robinette, Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, is based on the motion picture ‘A Christmas Story’ distributed by Warner Brothers, Written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark.

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Filmmaker Stephen Blauweiss & Woodstock: 100 Years of Arts and Counting

The extraordinary center of the Arts that is Woodstock, will soon be celebrated by independent filmmaker Stephen Blauweiss in an upcoming feature documentary film. His fundraising gala at the Woodstock Playhouse on Saturday, November 5th at 8:00 p.m. will serve as a kick-starter event for his film project that will shed light on the extraordinary arts colony that grew by leaps and bounds into an internationally recognizable home of the Arts.

Filmmaker Stephen Blauweiss is well known for his recently completed film ‘Lost Rondout: A Story of Urban Removal’; a feature documentary film which chronicles how, in the 1960s, federally funded urban renewal projects destroyed Kingston’s waterfront. His film is attracting unprecedented regional attention, and the story his film tells is the new buzz across the region.

His newest project on Woodstock: 100 Years of Arts is following quickly in the footsteps of his Rondout film.

Woodstock is by far increasingly recognized as one of this country’s earliest art colonies and as heir to the millennial arts heritage of the Hudson Valley.

The Saturday, November 5th event will be an entertaining and informational night out, celebrating Woodstock’s unique role in the American Art and Music scene. It will be a multi-media, theatrical event including a variety of short films by Stephen Blauweiss, including the premiere of a short about artist Lenny Kislin. Live music performances by Kate Pierson, Connor Kennedy and ‘The Strings’ – Jay Friedman, Veronica Kent, Peter Martin – will fill the event with great entertainment, while many rare photographs and unusual facts will add to your knowledge about the region’s rich Arts heritage of Woodstock that is a recognized national treasure.

The host for the evening, filmmaker Stephen Blauweiss, also produced ArtScene, a monthly video web series, distributed by Chronogram Magazine. His column profiled artists and artisans, area museums, galleries, and the art history that forms the vibrant creative community in the Hudson Valley.

Tickets for this important and entertaining event are available at www.WoodstockPlayhouse.org or 845-679-6900. All tickets are $75 for this fundraising event.

Woodstock: 100 Years of Arts Fundrasing Gala will be held at the iconic Woodstock Playhouse, located at 103 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock, NY 12498. The Playhouse is a recognized important national historical site under the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area as one of the first rural extensions of Broadway which hosted the earliest stage performances of the golden era’s film and stage stars including Lillian Gish, First Lady of American Cinema.

Our history represents our roots in the deep dark soil of the past which has nourished great growth today and into the future.

Join us for the kick-starter evening that will broadcast Woodstock and our region’s resounding international Arts scene through the eyes of filmmaker Stephen Blauweiss.

p.s. The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra led by Jonathan Handman, featuring violinist J Freivogel, will play a concert including Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s Symphonoy #5 this coming Sunday, October 30th at the Woodstock Playhouse. www.WoodstockPlayhouse.org

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“Broadway in Your Backyard”

Michael Gaudio as Sky & Kelly Murphy as Miss Sarah Brown give stellar performances in 'Guys and Dolls' at the Woodstock Playhouse

Taylor Dawn Brauer as Miss Adelaide and Kelly Murphy as Miss Sarah Brown are the real deal with voices and dance abilities that stop the show. Jacob Sefcak as Nathan Detroit and Michael Gaudio as Sky Masterson complete the male/female talent packed duos with delivery that will make you fall in love all over again.

There is no hype in this theatre. The fare that is served up at the Woodstock Playhouse is ‘A Number One’ Broadway caliber. All of the talent, hand-picked by the Playhouse producers from top-talent across the United States, is packed with performers who will shine in lead and ensemble roles throughout the season.

‘Guys and Dolls’ runs for 2 more weekends: June 24th thru July 3rd, Friday and Saturday Evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $32-$40, are reserved seating in the air-conditioned house where-in “every seat is the best seat in the house”.  Visit http://www.WoodstockPlayhouse.org for tickets, or phone the box office at 845-679-6900.

The Woodstock Playhouse, located at 103 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock, NY 12498, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to cultivate respect and appreciation for the Arts through excellence in performance and education.

Additional productions by the Woodstock Playhouse Company include ‘Beauty and the Beast’ July 8 – 24, ‘Cherry’s Patch’ July 29 – 31, and ‘Pippin’ August 5 – 21.

There are some amazing surprises in your own backyard; and depending on your destination, you can rest assured that it’s a sure bet.

Crapshooters Ballet from 'Guys and Dolls' at the Woodstock Playhouse

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Would Woodstock (‘69) have been Woodstock (‘69) if Woodstock (NY) weren’t Woodstock (NY)?

'Equus' at the Woodstock Playhouse of Woodstock NY, the maverick arts and nature town which inspired our region

Summer Festivals have happened in Woodstock NY ever since the founding of its great theatre and fine art institutions in the early 1900s, and they are happening in full force this very summer and indeed throughout the year.

Woodstock was established on a main travel artery leading from New York City to the cool summer Catskill Mountains. Woodstock quickly became a coach stop center for NYC folk escaping the heat of the summer city, thanks to founding families and early developers like the Elwyn and DeLisio families, who made certain that the town had all of the appointments necessary for the comfort of traveling city folk.

The Arts emerged en force with the appearance of the Byrdcliffe Art Colony and the inspiration of Jane Byrd McCall and Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, along with colleagues, Bolton Brown and Hervey White. From their Arts inspired infusion, the town blossomed during the summer with Artists, Writers, Musicians and the beginnings of Theatre.

Festivals of Summer Arts became the hallmark of Woodstock from the first half of the 20th century; and with the raising of the Maverick Concert Hall thanks to Hervey White, the Woodstock School of Art thanks to the Woodstock artists and FDR’s New Deal, and the Woodstock Playhouse thanks to Robert Elwyn who emerged from the Maverick as a director producer with a singular vision, a long-standing tradition of buzz-worthy creations, world class performances and summer festivals poured from the creative hearts and minds of artists to quench the summer visitors like the Old Mill Stream meandering through the idyllic setting at the base of the enchanted Overlook Mountain.

With Theatre and Arts of every kind, the established Summer Festivals throughout Woodstock continue today, as they have for over a century. Name your passion, and visit Woodstock this summer to meet the Mother of her Woodstock 1969 Festival in person. She’s quite a muse, and she’ll gift you with the most inspiring of performances, exhibits, concerts and energy that is, and has always been, the heart of all things ‘Woodstock’.

Visit www.WoodstockPlayhouse.org , www.BirdOnACliff.org , www.WoodstockFilmFestival.com , www.WoodstockGuild.org , www.MaverickConcerts.org , www.WoodstockComedyFestival.org , www.WoodstockInvitational.com , www.WoodstockWriters.com , and for a comprehensive view of Woodstock Performances, Events and Festivals, visit www.WoodstockChamber.com .

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A Mother’s Day Gift: Summer Theatre Trumps the Ultimate Box of Chocolates

With the age of at-home-entertainment, computers and work that doesn’t stop, there is one thing that mothers, actually any of us, crave: to get out of the house. That box in which we live, no matter how comfy we make it – thanks to those infectious ‘Property Brothers’ or Chip and Joanna Gaines and their lot – the phrase, “I’ve just got to get out of the house,’ comes pouring out at the most unexpected of times.

With a season lasting June 17th thru August 21st, the Woodstock Playhouse Summer Theatre Festival offers an opportunity for escape and a line-up of fantasies come true: ‘Guys and Dolls’, ‘Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Pippin’, and an exciting new drama, ‘Cherry’s Patch’ by local resident playwright Ron Scott Stevens.

To shop on-line, shop local, and bring home a prized catch, visit the Woodstock Playhouse website at www.woodstockplayhouse.org to see details of and purchase tickets for their fantastic new season.

You can’t go wrong with a night out, or a series of nights out, at one of the most iconic playhouses in America, as sited by the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. The New York entertainment industry is talking about the Woodstock Playhouse production company and their talent which has inspired a new age in Woodstock and a new respect for the performing arts.

Mothers deserve to get out of the house, and so do you.

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Mental Breaks: They can cure what ails you

Lucas Handwerker, Mentalist

Lucas Handwerker, Mentalist; photo by Franco Vogt

Between the deafening war of politicians’ rhetoric armed with barbs of bigotry and spikes aimed to wound (or make stronger?) their competition/opposition, (and with them, our country,) there are moments, ever so brief, where within it is said that they take a breath; and for battered ears, there is a gloriously infinite moment of joyous silence.

Words have become the weapon of choice for so many. Words, so watered down with pasty gray intention, that they have lost their meaning in strings of manipulation and the piloting of hungry masses.

Wash the barrage of verbal assault away. Step into the theater and let words of purpose rain down and settle your spirit and understanding. Let them take you away from the daily grind and spring-wound duties to a place of self-discovery and renewal.

April 7th thru the 24th, Performing Arts of Woodstock is presenting the play ‘Good People’ By David Lindsay-Abaire.  The play is an insightful comedy of class and culture, deemed darkly funny and surprisingly touching. Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 8 p.m., Sunday Matinees at 1:30 p.m.. Performances will take place at the Woodstock Community Center, 56 Rock City Road in Woodstock, NY 12498. For more information about the performers and for tickets, visit www.PerformingArtsofWoodstock.org or phone 845-679-7900.

On April 30th at 8 p.m., Lucas Handwerker, Mentalist will entertain in an evening entitled, ‘The Hidden’ at the Woodstock Playhouse. In this evening sponsored by Westwood Metes and Bounds Realty, Lucas Handwerker, labeled a mental prodigy of our time, will open your mind, and lead you on a journey “to an understanding of truth far beyond any adopted self-imposed limitations.”  His show, in truth, has helped people overcome their internal obstacles and realize their life’s full potential. For more information and tickets to his entertaining and inspiring performance at the Woodstock Playhouse located at 103 Mill Hill Road at the Gateway to Woodstock, NY, visit www.WoodstockPlayhouse.org or phone 845-679-6900.

It’s time for a mental break. So off to the theater to feel, to see, to be moved, to connect with a kind fellow human energy and understanding, and to acknowledge that there is more in the silent spaces of infinite breaths than there is in a storm of white noise and hollow words.

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Are you ready to go on a real life adventure with your child?

NYCA Song & Dance Troupe

Adventures are found at every turn in life, and the path you help your child choose can provide them with a guidance and direction in a world where so many choices present themselves; a world that is spinning them as if in a whirling dervish of ghostly promises and interests that fly away as quickly as they appear.

For a child or young adult, an introduction to the theatre arts through joining classes or attending performances at a young age can transform the world from a harsh taskmaster of social demands and temptations into a world of self-understanding, clear vision, personal direction and care.

This time of year, as spring emerges, it is the time for many student productions, both in public and private schools or in non-profit and private studios, to be presented. At the core of student programs and performances, the tangible rewards of the attainment of goals, teamwork, listening skills, communication, confidence, self-respect, respect of others, public speaking, athletic prowess, building of friendships, health, time management skills, in addition to growing and understanding a child’s own singular talents and potentials, all wait to be claimed.

Growing up is truly a wild adventure. So, when you take your own special moments to listen, observe and care for your child’s individual development in today’s American society, consider the investment and asset that is found through the benefits of the performing arts.

Check out local programs in your school system or at local non-profit or private studios. Go to a show with your child this spring; stop in at a studio and let your child try some classes and find the art form and studio that is right for their development.

As an example, for a perfect introduction for young children, The NYCA Theatre for Children Company will present ‘Alice in Wonderland Adventures’ at the Woodstock Playhouse on Saturday and Sunday, March 12 & 13 at 2:00 p.m. Visit www.WoodstockPlayhouse.org for details and tickets, or www.nyca.org for student company details. Make it part of a special day with your child, and who knows – it might be the beginning of a new adventure that will open their eyes (and yours) to an invaluable new world!

For so many wonderful choices, search the web and calendar listings; read the posters, visit your local theatre or studio, and find a student theatre program and performance near you. The theatre arts can literally make the world a better place for you and your children. Now that would be quite an adventure!

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Casting: the private elections of a new world

The Iconic Woodstock Playhouse, Photo Artwork by Tommy and Tom Joscelyn

Headshots, resumes and letters of interest are already arriving daily from interested candidates who desire the positions that will have voices ringing out from the Woodstock Playhouse stage this summer in a season that will include Frank Loesser’s ‘Guys & Dolls’ and the Stephen Schwartz/Bob Fosse branded ‘Pippin’. This is one of the most exciting times for the theater, and one of the most private; just like when you’re planning that party and the guest list is the most important scribble of detail to which you’ll ever commit.

So, don’t be modest: Rising professionals, established performers, rising college musical theatre students and apprentices are invited to submit their interest during this pre-season search for talent.

Send a photo/headshot, performance resume and letter of interest with the subject line of ‘Woodstock Playhouse Casting’ to info@WoodstockPlayhouse.org, or send your submission by USPS to Woodstock Playhouse, P.O. Box 1434, Woodstock, NY 12498.

Great shows, like great parties, are the result of enthusiasm, commitment and chemical pairing. We’re creating that wonderful party; and, whether you will be a player on the stage or a guest in the audience, you’ll be delighted as you sip the punch steeped in time-honored tradition and reputation for some of the region’s finest theatre.

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Happy New Year & Happy 70th Season Forestburgh Playhouse!

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is upon us! My name is Franklin Trapp and I am the Producer of the Forestburgh Playhouse. We are a professional summer theatre located in the heart of the Catskills. This year we celebrate our 70th season of entertaining audiences in Sullivan County and beyond. I am extremely excited to be a part of this blog–especially since we are so lucky to have so many exciting options in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills when it comes to live theatre.

Many people ask me if I am enjoying my time off since the Playhouse isn’t open. It’s the exact opposite I tell them! Right now is a critical time for the Playhouse–we are hiring our creative teams, beginning the casting process, fundraising, beginning our new promotions…and more! I think through this blog and other means, we can really educate folks on how much goes into planning a show, a season, a weekend performance. Lots of love and work make the theatre happen. My next post will be about the casting process and how we gather over 50 professionals from across the country to comprise our season. Until then, buy a ticket, see a show, and support live theatre near you! For more information about the Forestburgh Playhouse, go to www.fbplayhouse.org

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