EPAC’s ‘Sweet Charity’ has something for everyone

EDITOR’S NOTE: A regular attendee of Endicott Performing Arts Center shows shared with BAMirror the comments he posted on EPAC’s Facebook site following last week’s opening weekend of Sweet Charity. Performances conclude tomorrow (Sunday, March 24).

Reviewed by Ed Arnold

Another fine evening’s entertainment was provided by the cast and tech crew of EPAC for the musical Sweet Charity. When I go out for an evening, I want to be entertained with comedy, dancing, live music, and this show had it all. Read the rest of this entry »

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EPAC ‘Fiddler’ hits all the right notes

Reviewed by George Basler

Fiddler on the Roof, being performed this weekend and next by the Endicott Performing Arts Center (EPAC) Repertory Company,  is a superb production of one of Broadway’s greatest musicals.

What makes the musical great, besides the obvious elements of  top-notch songs and writing, is its underlying theme. Read the rest of this entry »

EPAC successfully tackles controversial musical

Reviewed by George Basler

Director Patrick Foti calls Spring Awakening, which opened Thursday (July 19) at the Endicott Performing Arts Center, a descendant of West Side Story, the ground-breaking musical of a half century ago.

While the comparison might not be readily apparent, both shows deal with the raw emotions of young characters caught up in a world that can crush their dreams. And just as West Side Story pushed the envelope in terms of staging and themes seen on Broadway in the late 1950s, Spring Awakening does the same thing for contemporary audiences. Read the rest of this entry »

EPAC keeps growing to bring arts to community

By Ralph Hall

EPAC as a work in progress

EPAC as a work in progress

Throughout the Americas and Europe, there are hundreds of community theaters, but there is only one Endicott Performing Arts Center (EPAC)! EPAC is a unique, comprehensive and community-committed not-for-profit organization serving the Broome County area and making a difference in economics, the arts and education. The activities of this company are so very diverse in serving many age groups, varied arts pursuits (i.e. acting, dance, backstage, etc.) in a setting that positively affects the economics of Washington Avenue, Endicott and Broome County.

The venue, formerly known as the Lyric Theater, was built 1916-1917 as a vaudeville theater, and a few years later was transformed to a motion picture theater. In 1993 the owners closed the theater, and it began to deteriorate. Fortunately for the community, Lou Ligouri (Executive Director) and Pat Foti (Artistic Director) met in 1991 and within a few years created a vision that was to become EPAC. The first performance in 1999 was Visions of Vaudeville, produced and performed with the St. Anthony Players. In 2010, the name of the theater was changed to “Robert Eckert Theatre” to honor Robert Eckert, an Endicott native who has been active in professional and community theater for many years. 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 ‘Hair’ was perfect summer entertainment

Reviewed by Rebecca Sheriff

Last weekend I took a break from reviewing local bands to see the Endicott Performing Arts Center’s performance of Hair, the rock musical. The performance was outside at the Stage at Little Italy, the perfect venue for this dynamic show. Hair is a controversial musical that debuted in 1968 with themes of the 196’s including the Vietnam War, drugs and the sexual revolution. The use of rock music for a musical was revolutionary at the time of its debut. This performance featured a seven-piece band, and the outdoor setting allowed for the audience interaction typical of the show — cast members moved out into the audience several times, even offering beads and lollipops to the crowd at intermission.

The large ensemble cast delivered a great performance. The whole cast (or tribe, in the parlance of the show) was on stage for most of the performance. The actors constantly reacted to what was going on through their own improvised comments, gestures and even dance moves. The cast kept up with the fast pace and seamless transitions between scenes and musical numbers. The choreography was well suited for the show from small dance move, to larger numbers, and the cast interaction and movements evoked a real tribe feeling.

The enthusiasm and passion from a mostly young cast that was not alive in the ’60s was astonishing, although the music itself inspires passion with such classics as “Aquarius” and “Let the Sun Shine.” There were a few times where it was difficult to make out the sung words if you were off center of the speakers’ sweet spot, but overall the entire performing was a moving experience

If you missed Hair, you will have another chance this summer to see an outdoor performance by EPAC. Shakespeare’s The Tempest runs through Sunday (Aug. 7) at the Stage at Little Italy at George W. Johnson Park on Oak Hill Avenue, Endicott.

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EPAC ‘Superstar’ captures retro spirit

Editor’s note: BAMirror featured a previous review of Jesus Christ Superstar at EPAC, based on the dress rehearsal. Schriber wanted to write about the show as it progressed through its run, explaining, “Because I was at the end of the run, I could speak to more specifics without giving away the show.” Read the rest of this entry »