Diva Productions Presents Showstoppers Cabaret, Preview

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Diva Productions Presents Showstoppers Cabaret, Preview

Recently, I spoke with directors and cast members of the upcoming musical performance, Showstoppers Cabaret, by Diva Theater Productions, to be performed at The Olde Brick Theatre, starting the weekend of June 22, 2018. I met with the cast a few weeks ago at the Olde Brick Theatre and sat down in the back of this charming place, mesmerized. Marcie Herman Riebe, our beloved contributor of Thirty-Third Wheel and Musical Director of Showstoppers Cabaret was hard at work with the talented cast, perfecting the song, “Be Our Guest” from the musical, Beauty and the Beast. As I sang the song loudly in my head as I would aloud as a child of the 90’s, I relived my love for musicals once forgotten. Then, I recalled the feelings of excitement while listening to this number, imagining dancing dishes, charming candelabras, and back-up accoutrement preparing a fabulous dinner for two in a lonely castle. As an adult, I still picture this performance and sing along as I prepare for dinner guests from time to time.

The next number caught my attention, was “Suddenly Seymour” from the musical, Little Shop Horrors. I spoke with George Conrad, who sings the part of Seymour. George has years of experience in the theater, alongside his family members, including his sister, Kayla, who is also in Showstoppers Cabaret. He said he identified with Seymour’s character, which he said he was also “quirky and was not successful with women.” George discussed his goals to direct and stated the importance of “carrying on stories and impacting others.” Whether comedy or tragedy, I could hear the conviction in his voice that George set out to fulfill his purpose.

I discussed with Marnie Azzarelli, also a beloved writer for Thirty-Third Wheel, her roles in Showstoppers Cabaret. She remained secretive about which songs she will be performing in, particularly as lead. However, she hinted that her lead song involves “a lot of corsets and fans.” Marnie stated about her past experience with acting that, “In the last year, I’ve done a couple of musical reviews. I haven’t really been a part of a production like this in a while, so I’m super excited about it! I was only in maybe one musical when I was younger and I was always hoping to be able to branch out and get myself more involved with musical theater. I’m so glad I get the chance to do that with this show! It’s a challenge but it’s a good challenge.”

Lastly, I spoke with Director, Paul J. Gallo, who gave me a summary of what to expect from Showstoppers Cabaret. He stated: “Showstoppers Cabaret is a celebration of great showstopping numbers in musical theatre. Some tried and true favorites as well as some that may not be as well known, but all bring that big showstoppery feel that sets them in their own class!”

I definitely felt the “showstoppery feel” when listening to the performances of this wonderful cast. I encourage you to attend at least one show (you will want to attend more, because it is that good)!

The Olde Brick Theatre is located 126 W Market St, Scranton, PA 18508. It is $12 for general admission and $10 for student admission. Please call 570-209-7766 to make your reservations. The performances will take place on the following dates and times:

Friday, June 22, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 23, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 24, 2:00 p.m.

 

6X6 One-Acts

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6X6 One-Acts
Diva Theater Productions
Olde Brick Theatre
Providence Section, Scranton

Experienced and brand-new playwrights’ works make up the Diva Theater Production’s “6X6 One-Acts Show” this week.  An annual tradition at the Olde Brick Theatre in Scranton, this year’s show has a one-act for every season the production company has been in the area.

New to writing plays, but not new to creative writing, James Scott Flannery’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” is one feature of the show, starring Flannery and Michael Madajeski.  Flannery shares that while screenplays have been more of his genre in the past, this one-act has inspired him to attempt a full-length play now.

Full-length plays are known territory for Thirty-Third Wheel’s own Marnie Azzarelli, though.  Her piece, “Hairworm,” came from an acting class exercise at Diva, but she and her mother (and director), Margo Azzarelli, are known local playwrights.  The sequel to their work, “The Bristol,” will be produced at Diva later this season.

Michael Pavese is another local writer of NEPA.  His plays have been featured at the Olde Brick Theatre and at Gaslight Theatre Company in Wilkes-Barre in their Playroom series.  He was excited to be able to work with director, Paige Balitski again this year with a new set of animals in “Another Day at the Lab.”  Balitski is also directing Flannery’s play and K. K. Gordon’s comical one-act, “Killing Naked Roses.”

The show also features John Schugard’s “Fun with Richard and Jane” which he is also directing, and Sarah Regan’s “Summer Storm,” directed by Paul J. Gallo and featuring Susan Parrick and Jennifer Frey.

Surely, the Diva One-Acts are not to be missed.  As Marnie Azzarelli says, writing a complete story portrayed in twenty minutes is “very satisfying.”  These pieces should satisfy all audience members with their varied themes and styles.

This show includes adult language and themes.

Call to reserve your tickets for this weekend’s shows soon—seating is limited and it’s filling up fast.  The show runs Thursday (January 25), Friday (January 26) and Saturday (January 27) at 8 p.m. and Sunday (January 28) at 2 p.m.  Call Diva Theater Productions for your tickets today at 570-209-7766!

A Little Diva Holiday Show

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A Little Diva Holiday Show: One-Acts for Children & Teens

Diva Theater Productions
Olde Brick Theatre
Providence Section, Scranton

The youngsters at the Olde Brick Theatre have quite the holiday spectacular planned this year. Their upcoming performance, A Little Diva Holiday Show: One-Acts for Children & Teens features four one-act plays by local playwrights.

First is “The Shortest Day” by local actress Lorrie Loughney. She shares that her play helps audience members (and the kids especially) to learn about the Christmas traditions we have today. Shannon O’Malley, one of the young performers, says the best part of being in this Celtic Christmas fairytale is working with new people and getting to see the play come together. This echoes the one-act’s director, Sandra Connolly, who claims the best part of this performance experience has been helping the young actors better understand how theatre works and letting the kids learn how to express themselves in character.

Connolly also directs “The Kid Who Hates Christmas” by Margo and Marnie Azzarelli. Marnie Azzarelli hopes that audiences recognize it is important to spend time with family at Christmas while you still have them with you. This mother-daughter writing team is passionate about history and family and their play has both, according to Marnie. Margo hopes people will come to the youth performance not only to support local arts, but for the opportunity to support our future actors and actresses, too. She says, “There may be a future Meryl Streep in the cast”—perhaps it’s one of the young actresses in their play.

Ted LoRusso’s “The Threes of Throop” is also running in this performance set. Mia Scotti, an actress in this Christmas elegy, feels LoRusso’s one-act has great detail and that it’s fun to play a real-life character, as the play is based on a portion of the childhood of Lou Bisignani of Actor’s Circle fame. LoRusso and director, Laura M. Heffron, both feel that the kids are rising to the occasion and challenging themselves and their imaginations. Heffron adds that everyone is wearing many hats to make this production happen, too, and that the collaboration taking place throughout all aspects of the performance is phenomenal, and the youth are embracing it.

Heffron is also directing “Mother’s Little Elfer” by Wendy Wescott. The large cast of this play had a great deal to share about it, most agreeing that they thought it was funny, but people could learn a lesson from it as well. It’s relatable, they say, too, because nearly everyone has an Elf on the Shelf to keep them in line.

A Little Diva Holiday Show: One-Acts for Children & Teens runs December 7, 8, and 9 at 7:30 p.m. and December 10 at 2:00 p.m. Seating is limited, but you can reserve your seats by calling Diva Theater Productions at 570-209-7766.

 

Man on a Canvas

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Diva Theater Productions is pleased to present local playwright Jeff Boam’s Man on a Canvas at the Old Brick Theater in Scranton. It opens on Friday, November 10.

When talking with the cast, they unanimously agreed that Boam’s play is singular.  Set in 1920’s New York at the Algonquin Hotel where members of the famous “Vicious Circle” met (think Dorothy Parker, Harpo Marx, Alexander Woollcott and the gang), the play moves forward to modern-day Scranton, Pennsylvania, where the story of boxing and boxers who won’t fight continues.  Actor David Spitzer feels the actors’ portrayals of historic personages helps add to the uniqueness of the show.  Actor Michael Madajeski jokes that all of the drinking the Algonquin Round Table members did makes the play, but his humor fits in, particularly since actor Dante Giammarco feels one of the best parts of the rehearsal process for the show has been getting the chance to watch Boam’s comedy develop in his fellow actors.  He confesses it leads to some “delicious” moments on stage.

If that’s not incentive enough to go, maybe Boam’s boxing theme will pull you in.  The production, which began as a screenplay that Boam admits he “forced anybody with a pair of eyes” to read, has his hard work and determination pay off in play form.  Director Paige Balitski was happy to take on the show, which follows other productions of Boam’s at the Old Brick including Behind The Six and The Judas Sheep.  But boxing is in Scranton’s blood.  Boam even consulted with the city’s own “Irish” Gene Reed when writing to make the boxing aspects as believable as possible.  Boam shares, as well, that the comedy would appeal to fans of plays like The Man Who Came to Dinner and You Can’t Take It With You; it is in true Kaufman and Hart style.

So come for the history and boxing and stay for the good time.  Man on a Canvas runs November 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 8 p.m. and November 12 and 19 at 2 p.m.  For ticket reservations, contact Diva Theater Productions at 570-209-7766

The Birds

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The Birds

Diva Theater Productions

Olde Brick Theatre

Providence Section, Scranton

 

It’s that time of year when people flock to anything spooky. This October should be no different, as all of NEPA ought to be flying to see the Diva Theater’s production of The Birds. Based on the Daphne du Maurier short story, the play version of The Birds will appeal to any lover of the story or of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie of the same name. But be warned—no version, whether play or movie—is just like her story. Each has its own personality and its own thematic outlook.

 

I spoke with Paul J. Gallo, director of the Diva Theater’s version, and asked why people ought to come out to see the performance. He said just that:  “It’s its own piece of work. There are birds and there are dire straits, and while it seems like man versus nature on the surface, it’s really [a story of] man versus himself.” He suggests that this is the key to the play version. In his work, playwright Conor McPherson gets to delve more deeply into how humans survive when everything in the world is out of sorts.

 

Gallo is pleased to be putting on a show that’s not been seen in Northeastern Pennsylvania. That makes him pleased for his cast and crew as well who are working hard to give the area theatre in its best form—something “organic that has a life of its own.” The actress playing Julia, Lindsey Matylewicz, echoes this idea. When asked about the biggest challenge she’s faced with this show, she smiles and says that as her first dramatic work (as opposed to prior comedic roles), The Birds has been a test for her as she’s had to work hard “rounding out her character and her motives.”  Additionally, he feels that the work gives its actors the challenge of the larger messages it has to share about humanity, that the play goes well with the time of year, and it gives the crew the creative task of how to build up the threat of birds inside of a theatre.

 

Speaking with Jennifer Frey, who plays the authoress Diana in the production, gives insight into the real machinations of the work.  She says, “as in any good dystopian story, there are internal and external monsters.” Gallo mirrors this sentiment, adding, “The terror of the play comes from the characters themselves,” and states that working up the tension of the characters trapped inside because of the birds is a challenge, too. While the movie focuses on the fear of the birds and their attacks, the play looks at how horror comes from within us all.

 

The Birds runs October 6, 7, 13, and 14 at 8 p.m. and the Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. will be held on October 8 and October 15. Reservations are strongly suggested. You can contact Diva Theater -Productions at 570-209-7766.