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Well, apparently, it’s the middle of June. Once again, I’ve hit the ground running and the days are flying by. Each summer, I vow to stop and smell the roses, but I’m already having a hard time keeping up with the roster of amazing events that occur throughout the Upper Delaware River region. “It’s not too late to slow down, is it?” I asked the dog, who whimpered to go out, ignoring me altogether. “After all,” I said, “it’s not even officially summer yet.” Or is it?
I should know better, having been to the Forestburgh Playhouse to see the first production of the season, Charles Ludlum’s “The Mystery of Irma Vep.” The show featured two (IMHO) amazingly talented character actors, Buddy Haardt and Matthew Curiano, who each played a dizzying array of multiple roles. As the mystery unfolds, the pace gains momentum and, as the old saying goes, hilarity ensues. Trent Blanton’s clever direction and Ashleigh Poteat’s all-important (and seamlessly executed) quick costume changes are key to the success of this show, but without Curiano and Haardt, all could have easily been lost. Instead, the actors romped, mugged and purposely overacted to their hearts content, while we in the audience scratched our collective heads, in an attempt to ascertain how the two actors managed to breathe hysterical life into the array of roles they dizzily inhabited during the two-act comedy.
There was even a third character on stage that never spoke—scenic designer Tim Golebiewski’s fantastical mansion set, where most of the action takes place. Susan Nicholson’s lighting and Travis Byrne’s sound design enhanced his creation, and Golebiewski and Properties Master Lorelei Davis clearly worked overtime to hide-in-plain-sight even more jokes on the (worth-the-price-of admission) set itself, many of which were so subtle as to be missed by the casual observer, including me. I had an opportunity to get “up close and personal” with the set design after the show and was still amused, long after the applause had faded away. Bravo!
With images of Golebiewski’s theatrical designs still dancing in my head, I was keen on discovering that set designer Sarah Lambert’s theatrical designs were being featured at the UpFront Exhibition Space and art gallery in Port Jervis, NY. There, she was joined by dozens of artists showcasing their sculptures, paintings and mixed media creations at the gallery’s summer-season opening night reception last Saturday. “The challenge in exhibiting set design,” Lambert said, as I admired her miniature backdrops and accompanying schematics, “is that, very often, there are multiple scenes within a single production. Hopefully, I’ve chosen properly, and that the individual set being shown here represents the production well.”
Along with Lambert’s impressive pieces, there were beautiful florals painted by Rosalind Hodgkins, and I spied children’s book illustrator Julia “Nilus” Williams happily chatting with fans while marking one of her pieces as “sold.” Williams was not the only illustrator displaying her work at the reception, and I took a moment to chat with poet George Eckhardt, illustrator Tony Gianti and graphic designer Geoffrey Hutchinson, who have teamed up to create “The Woodgate House”—a beautifully illustrated book for children that includes a CD with music and narration by Eckhardt. Following a spirited conversation with the guys, I meandered through the gallery, chatting with others out for the evening in search of artistic enlightenment, most of whom were solely interested in saying “hello” to the dog. Sigh.
In my ongoing attempt to bask in the glory that is summer, I plan to catch as many shows, concerts and art exhibits as possible, hopefully encouraging you all to do the same, while making time to go boating and hang out with friends by the fire. Lazy, hazy and crazy… So are the days of our lives.