The Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop opened its 71st season (wow!) with a rousing “Valentine Cabaret” at a redesigned Sullivan County Museum rear auditorium in Hurleyville, with three shows on …
The Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop opened its 71st season (wow!) with a rousing “Valentine Cabaret” at a redesigned Sullivan County Museum rear auditorium in Hurleyville, with three shows on February 14, 15 and 16.
Seventy-one consecutive years of dramatic plays and musicals is quite a record in our sleepy little village, noted Master of Ceremonies Peter Nastasi.
A major renovation this year initiated by Producer and Director Jim Schmidt was moving the entire show down off of the stage and setting up on the ground at the back of the Sullivan County Museum Auditorium. With the musicians behind them, the performances were level with the audience. It made for a closer, more intimate experience for the audience.
Looking down or directly at the performers is what was traditionally used during Greek theatre, as well as in football and baseball stadiums and even Woodstock, noted Mr. Schmidt, who is also “Technical Director, Lighting and Sound Design”, who has won TANYS awards for set design, lighting and technical direction.
Furthermore, the sound, singing, and music is much clearer.
The romantic Valentine's Day atmosphere was also reflected in the set-up of the auditorium by Dawn Perneszi and Grace Summa. There were just two rows of chairs in front. In the rest of the room were four seat tables with red tablecloths and a rose in a vase. Schmidt's overall low-lighting was red with hearts and balloons around the hall.
The 16 performers were romantically or anti-romantically inspired and backed by the finest musicians, namely Leon Hilfstein, piano and leader; Brandon Sparkman on jazz and sexy saxophone; and Allan Charney on drums.
Teri Paris opened the show with “Love is beautiful I know”, then the anti-love song “Down with Love” with Brandon Sparkman on sensual sax, and into “What is this thing called Love?”
Richard Quinn followed with “If ever I should leave you” and “On the street where you live” from the show “My Fair Lady”.
Shawn Collin Bailey sang a passionate lament “Don't you believe in love?”, then a bombastic defiant Tina Turner classic “What's Love Got to do With it?”
Wild Woman comedian Mary Burkart, with her beautiful soprano song “A Quiet Thing”, then returned with a straw hat and a 5 foot cutout of a milk cow. As she milked the cow, she suddenly screamed “I'm bored!”, ripped off her jeans and milking gloves, revealing a spangled dress and a chicken feather scarf, and transformed into a sexy cabaret singer, performing the song “City Lights”. Mary Burkart is an active member of the Delaware Valley Opera Society.
David Rosenberg on guitar sang a folk variation of Dolly Parton's “I Will Always Love You” and John Denver's “Probably Love”. On Sundays, David holds an “Open Mic” at DeFilippis Bakery in Monticello.
For a complete change of pace, Rebecca (Becky) Salerno, a sophomore at Monticello High School, sang an alternative love song by SYML, called “Where's My Love”, and the song “I'll Follow You into the Dark”, accompanied by Hannah Veety and Keith Prince on guitar. Then Becky did an upbeat “I Don't Know What Love Is”.
Eighteen-year old Tania Navarro bounced around on stage twirling a baton singing “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins.
Amber Schmidt sang a rousing “Title”, an anthem for women's respect.
Singing the most beautiful love duet of the evening, young Brianna Worden and Brandon Sparkman performed a truly heartfelt “I'm worthy of you” and ended walking off arm in arm to warm applause.
Heather Strauss broke the spell with “Please Don't Touch Me”, a tauntingly teasing, hilarious ditty.
Lynn Porter touched the heartstrings with John Lennon and Paul McCartney's “In My Life”.
Teri Schwartz and Josh Rosengrant sang in sweet harmony in “I need you now”.
Dark-haired, provocative Felice Schwed sang Marlena Dietrich's haunting “Falling in Love Again” complete with German accent.
Anna Veety, accompanying herself on guitar, sang the most provocative valentine song of the show: a classical, introspective and mesmerizing “Grow As We Go”. As an encore she sang with Lynn Porter on harmony “They Won't Let Go” and a Kate Wolf tribute, a personal love ballot of remembering.
T.K. Nelson sang a pure love song, then “Call Me When You're Sober” - a torch song.
Keith Prince promptly lightened the mood when he sang Adam Sandler's Ode to Love to Drew Barrymore from the “Wedding Singer” called “I want to grow old with you”.
Amber Schmidt had the audience clapping and toe-tapping with her Yiddish melody “Momma's Broken Heart”. Then she did a duet with Heather Strauss about female college roommates “What is this Feeling?”
Strauss sang a tear-jerker tribute to growing children in “Dear Daughter”.
The show started at 8 p.m. and ended at 10:30 p.m.
At the beginning, Peter Nastasi said it might be appropriate to have a moment of silence for the beloved Jackie Horner (beloved Sullivan County legend, choreographer, professional dancer, and the inspiration for the film “Dirty Dancing”) - but then added that Jackie Horner would not want a moment of silence. She would want music and entertainment. The SCDW prays that this evening did Jackie Horner proud.
For information about the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop programs, call (845) 436-5336 or go to www.scdw.net.