By Ronald B. Hellman
“We’ve never seen anything this bizarre in our lifetimes, where up is down and down is up and everything is in question and nothing is real.” — Charles Lewis, the Center for Public Integrity
Try to put those recurring thoughts out of your mind because, hey, it’s spring, it’s warming up, and local theater is in full bloom. Here are three productions to put on your list.
The Astoria Performing Arts Center once again fulfills its mission to bring high-quality professional theater to Queens, winding up its 17th season with the legendary musical “Follies” (book by James Goldman and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim). As we devoted Sondheim fans know, the characters in “Follies” examine the choices they made that have shaped their lives, while they say goodbye to a theater about to be demolished where some of them used to perform.
Coincidentally, APAC will also say goodbye to its performance space of 10 years — in a gym that you would never recognize as such — at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church — located at 30-44 Crescent St. It will announce its new location this summer.
Artistic Director Dev Bondarin directs “Follies” which runs from May 3 through May 26, with performances scheduled for Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., and Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“We are having a great time and can’t wait to share this show with an audience,” Bondarin said.
Since its inception, APAC has received 51 New York Innovative Theater Award nominations and has won 11 times, including four times for Outstanding Musical Production.
Over in Flushing at Electchester, a housing co-op created specifically for trade workers, Working Theater and its Five Boroughs/One City Initiative presents the world premiere of “Alternating Currents,” by Adam Kraar, directed by Kareem Fahmy, with a professional cast and crew, a tale of love and diversity and two newly-married electricians. (Do sparks fly?)
Performances are scheduled from April 26 through April 28 in Queens (Local 3 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on Jewel Avenue) before touring the other four boroughs and settling down at Urban Stages in Manhattan.
Working Theater is in its 33rd season. Its mission is to create theater for and about working people. The initiative, launched in 2014, commissions five teams of writers, directors and other artists with the goal of producing theater rooted in a neighborhood of each of New York City’s boroughs. Access theworkingtheater.org or call (866) 811-4111 for more information.
Last but not least is Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys,” presented by our oldest Queens troupe, the Douglaston Community Theater, at the Zion Episcopal Church — located off Northern Boulevard and 243rd Street — from May 4 to May 12. This production merits special attention since it features Frank DiSpigno, now in his 51st year as an actor and director.
DiSpigno, a Whitestone resident, seldom performs in Queens these days, so catch him while you can. He stars in “The Sunshine Boys”, along with Gary Tifeld, and also directs. Rumor has it that he may also help set up the chairs and work the concessions, but as I have already suggested, who knows what’s real these days.
Contact Ron Hellman at RBHOF