By Ronald B. Hellman
This weekend you might be wondering what it’s like to run in a marathon, or perhaps you’re debating whether to finish off the last of the Halloween goodies, or maybe, like me, you’re not sure if time really exists as we change the clocks back from daylight to standard. However, let me suggest that you escape these dilemmas by taking in a local show or two.
I’m revisiting Theatre By The Bay because they now have a new Artistic Director, namely Cathy Chimenti, who has taken over from Ovi Vargas, who succeeded the group’s first director Larry Bloom (not to be confused with a former main character on “Orange is the New Black”). Since its founding in 2004, Theatre By The Bay has produced almost exclusively musicals at the Bay Terrace Garden Jewish Center in Bayside, with its latest, “Little Shop of Horrors,” opening Saturday night and running for three weekends.
Raised in Astoria and living in Bayside since 1996 with her husband and two children, Chimenti has been a stage performer for more than 25 years. She toured nationally with “The Little Mermaid” and her regional theater credits include such shows as “Gypsy” (Mama Rose), “Funny Girl” (Fanny Brice), and “Anything Goes” (Reno Sweeney).
At a local Queens school, Chimenti originated a program called “Bound 4 Broadway” which introduced the world of theater to children in grades 2-5. And with husband Michael, she has performed their singing act throughout the tri-state area and elsewhere.
Last summer Chimenti directed an original revue, “Salute to the Tonys,” for Theatre By The Bay, and now looks forward to raising its level of professionalism with this production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”
“Always support live theater” is her mantra.
“Little Shop” premiered in 1982 and was a big hit Off-Broadway at the Orpheum Theatre, where it had a five-year run. With music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, the rock musical features the characters of Seymour and Audrey and a mysterious plant that is energized by an eclipse of the sun. Among many versions of the show is the 1986 film starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene (the original Audrey) and Steve Martin as the kind of dentist you never want to meet.
If it’s a play you’re looking for locally in November, you may want to take in “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme,” an English version of the French comedy classic by Molière by The Gingerbread Players at Saint Luke’s Church in Forest Hills, or the mystery “Cat’s Cradle” by the Douglaston Community Theatre at the Zion Church in Douglaston, or the world premiere of “Veil’d” by the Astoria Performing Arts Center at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Astoria.
Or a couple of other musicals: “Young Frankenstein,” by the Royal Star Theatre at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy in Jamaica Estates, and “She Loves Me,” by the Parkside Players at the Grace Lutheran Church in Forest Hills.
What do all of these shows have in common? Yes, friends, they are all presented at religious institutions. Where would theater in Queens be without them!
Contact Ron Hellman at RBHOF