Give some love to community theater

The Parkside Players’ production of Agatha Christie’s “Black Coffee” runs through March 4.
Courtesy of the Parkside Players
By Ronald B. Hellman

Another awards season is winding down, capped off by Oscar’s big night this Sunday.

In case you’re counting, there have already been ceremonies for the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice, the Producers Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild, the Grammys, BAFTA (the British Academy), and coming up on Saturday, the Independent Spirit Awards.

Come springtime, theater gets its chance with the Obies and the Tonys. How valid these awards are is open to question, perhaps not more than the hill of beans Bogart evoked in “Casablanca,” but they do generate publicity and sell tickets.

Meanwhile, our local theater groups struggle to survive — basically operating in the dark, if not in the red. This column, approaching its 11th anniversary, is dedicated to shining light on these valuable but under-appreciated companies. We welcome their input and news of their activities.

Theatre By The Bay in Bayside, rejuvenated under its new Artistic Director Cathy Chimenti, celebrates its 15th anniversary with the romantic comedy “Beau Jest” for five performances starting on Sunday. There are just two more chances to see The Parkside Players’ (Forest Hills) production of the Agatha Christie comedy-thriller “Spider’s Web,” on Friday and Saturday — but if you want to audition for its next one, the farce “Boeing, Boeing,” try your luck on March 11 or 14.

One of the more prolific groups, the Rockaway Theatre Company (Fort Tilden), offers the hit comedy “Lovers & Other Strangers” for three weekends in May, so plan on making your way to the beach. Royal Star Theatre (Jamaica Estates) has the musical comedy “The Wedding Singer” coming up April 27–May 5, while Maggie’s Little Theater in Middle Village will be holding auditions for the musical “Man of La Mancha” on March 7, 9 and 11.

Speaking of musicals, for you theatre buffs, it was 75 years ago that “Oklahoma!” opened on Broadway, for the first time integrating book, songs and dance, and kicking off the golden age of great musical theater.

Dramatic play readings are offered by the Lantern Theatre, mainly in libraries on Long Island, but they are looking for organizations in Queens that can afford to pay for some entertainment. These plays are fully acted and staged, but the actors keep book in hand.

Taking over from Deb’s Web, now that Debbie Starker has retired her weekly newsletter after 17 years, is the Long Island Community Theatre Cooperative. LICTC was founded last September by Kate Lenzo, providing a central site for audition notices and show announcements. Another resource continues to be SpotlightOnStage, headed by Charlene Greenberg. For those of you who would like some fun on stage, regardless of experience or training, Jeanna de Waal whom I profiled last year, is still running Broadway Weekends, a musical theater camp for adults. Her next event, led by working Broadway professionals, takes place over Mother’s Day weekend, May 12 and 13 and this time includes teenagers. More info: www.broadwayweekends.com.

Again, if you or your theater group are looking for some coverage in The Play’s The Thing, drop me a line. I look forward to hearing from you.

Contact Ron Hellman at rbhofc@gmail.com.

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