‘Last Five Years’ puts pair in a pop opera time warp

Reviewed by Nancy Oliveri

Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years opened last night (March 22) in Binghamton, a production of Half Light Theatre, one of the more recent entries into the theater community here. The show is not exactly a musical and is not exactly a play, but is more like an opera. I would call it a Pop Opera, but without any instantly sing-able melodies. I didn’t leave with any one song buffering in my head, just a sense of the work as a whole.

That’s OK, though, because it was good and, first and foremost, a love story — a story about the first and, no surprise here, what turn out to be the last five years of a couple’s angst-ridden, sometimes hopeful, but never really tender relationship. Performed in the intimate setting of the Roberson  Museum and Science Center’s third-floor ballroom, the show was accompanied only by Vicky Gordon, a fine pianist. Read the rest of this entry »

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EPAC’s ‘Shrew’ is pleasant trifle

Reviewed by George Basler

The Taming of the Shrew is one of William Shakespeare’s more controversial plays, as well as one of his best known. If taken seriously, the misogynistic tone and message of female submissiveness can be grating, even offensive, to modern audiences.

Thankfully, the Endicott Performing Arts Center’s production, which opened Thursday (Aug. 16) and will run through Sunday (Aug. 19), doesn’t take itself seriously. The show is a pleasant, if not exactly memorable, diversion for a warm summer’s evening. Read the rest of this entry »

Lesser-known works fare best in Elton John revue

Reviewed by George Basler

In his remarkable  40+-year career, nobody has ever accused Elton John of understatement.

To the contrary, John’s name conjures up a rock star image with over-the-top performances in large arenas and stadiums, outrageous costumes and driving rock bands. One image that doesn’t leap to mind is performing his songs in a intimate, cabaret setting, with only a keyboard accompanist.

That is the challenge being taken on this weekend by the Half Light Theatre, a new local theater group, which is peforming a wide-ranging concert of the composer’s work in the outdoor courtyard of the Roberson Museum and Science Center, 30 Front St., Binghamton. The revue, featuring eight singers backed by pianist Ken Martinak, opened Friday (July 13) and will continue at 7:30 p.m. today (Saturday, July 14) and at 3 p.m. Sunday (July 15). Read the rest of this entry »

Half Light creates hell at Roberson

Reviewed by Rebecca Sheriff

I was very intrigued when I heard there was going to be a local production of the play No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre. The work has been an absolute favorite of mine since studying existentialism as an undergraduate, and I find myself quoting the famous line “Hell is other people” on a weekly basis. I was hoping that this production by the Half Light Theatre would be traditional as the brilliance of this extraordinary play lies in its understated drama and the philosophical questions that arise from the profound dialogue. At Saturday evening’s performance (June 2), I was not disappointed. Read the rest of this entry »

Civil War play debuts to full house at Roberson

Reviewed by Ralph Hall

Since Binghamton was established in the early part of the 19th Century, its residents have contributed in many ways to most world events including the American Civil War. Laura Cunningham’s new play, Apron Strings, chronicles the lives of six of those citizens returning from this war. Produced by Terry McDonald, Executive Director of the Roberson Museum and Science Center in Binghamton, and directed by Judy McMahon, Apron Strings had its premiere performance Thursday (Feb. 23) in the newly renovated ballroom of the Roberson Mansion. Read the rest of this entry »

EPAC’s ‘Tempest’ survives and surpasses many storms

Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan

I was very eager to see EPAC’s summer Shakespeare production, The Tempest, at Endicott’s George W. Johnson Park. It’s my favorite Shakespearean work — I love how it explores fantasy, spirituality and forgiveness — so my expectations were high, and they were well met.

Director Tim Mollen offered a unique interpretation of this work, blending modern music without losing the classical style of the play. He simply brought together old and contemporary life, giving us the best of both worlds. There were several stunning moments when real life combined with comedy, and the result were amazing.

I cannot write this review without mentioning some of the obstacles that Mollen and his cast had to overcome. They had to: replace two lead actors less than week before the opening, adjust to losing their set and costumes and contend with severe thunderstorms. I woud have understood if the production had fallen flat, given the seemingly insurmountable challenges at hand. Yet, Mollen pulled his cast together and did not let the setbacks prevent us audience members from enjoying the play.

Of course, the resilient cast had much to do with the success of this show. Chris Nickerson stole the show as Caliban, the unnatural monster who inhabits the island. He truly connected with his “inner beast,” delivering a top-notch performance. Josh Sedelmeyer as Ariel, Prospero’s top fairy spirit, had less than three days to learn this large and integral part, yet one would never know that from how effortless he played it. He embodied Ariel well, making him both comic and poignant. I must tip my hat to him. He was so adept that one is left to think that him playing this part, while unintended, was a most happy accident.

Brett Nichols stepped into the role of Prospero at the same time as Sedelmeyer, and although Nichols uses a script, he wac charming, and his journey as Prospero really happened before our eyes. Simply amazing. I must mention Dustin Crispell, who played Trinculo, the drunken sidekick in drag. He brought sassiness to Shakespeare, and the result was wonderful and unforgettable.

I would like to take a moment to tell the cast that I really could write something complimentary about all of you. You all are troopers, and your triumph in the face of adversity is tremendous. You all deserve a round of applause for coming together the way you did. Everyone involved — cast, crew, and director — made this happen. You remind me that, no matter what happens, the show must go on! Congratulations to you all on a job well done!

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EPAC’s production of ‘Oliver’ is terrific

Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan

Normally, I don’t like musicals. It just seems pretentious to have people break into song and dance out of nowhere. I do not expect much when I attend a musical, but, to my surprise, I was immediately drawn into “Oliver” at the Endicott Performing Arts Center. From the moment the curtain opened to the last note sung, I was enthralled by EPAC’s outstanding production of this timeless tale. Read the rest of this entry »

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