A New Season At Rockaway Theatre Company

 A New Season At Rockaway Theatre Company

By Dan Guarino

It’s a comedy of topical manners, and one where manners fly out the window. It’s a grand, strutting, singing musical, a cabaret song dancing into the gathering shadows and the story of a soul emerging into the light.

It is the Rockaway Theatre Company (RTC) bringing together a new season of laughter, music, dancing and drama with five new productions, “Cabaret,” “Regrets Only,” “Hello, Dolly!” “God of Carnage,” and “The Miracle Worker,” lighting up the RTC’s Post Theater stage at Fort Tilden.

“Some of our best directors, choreographers and music directors will make this the most outstanding season yet,” says RTC’s Susan Jasper. “We’ve assembled a well-rounded theatrical season of two blockbuster musicals, two comedies and a classic drama,” none of which should be missed.

Kicking things off in high style, co-directors/choreographers Gabrielle Mangano and Nicola De Pierro-Nellen have pulled together a tight-knit cast to bring “Cabaret” to the stage. Musical director Jeff Arzberger has worked the show’s music and vocals to subtle perfect pitch, and will be leading its live performance band. Those who have seen the film “Cabaret” with Joel Grey and Liza Minelli will find many familiar songs like “Willkommen,” and “Cabaret,” and a few standout surprises. However, this stage version’s quality is the difference between having a glossy, distant cinema seat and actually being drawn into and sitting deep within Germany’s smoky, steamy Berlin Kit Kat Club. It’s an experience only live theatre can provide. “Cabaret” runs from March 17 through April 2.

RTC then leaps into farce with “Regrets Only,” directed by Peggy Page Press and Michael Wotypka.  “It is a satirical comedy,” says Press. “I am particularly excited to be back in the director’s seat with my co-director Michael” for the season’s second show.

Set in a posh Upper East Side apartment, “Regrets” gathers together a socialite wife, her much-married mother, her high-powered lawyer husband, their ultra-famous designer friend, soon-to-be engaged daughter and their housekeeper, each of whom are comic and extreme in their own right. Mix in a major announcement, a possible constitutional amendment and a call from the President of the United States, and Wotypka and Press will produce a freewheeling satire that is touching, timely and hilarious. “Regrets Only” runs May 12 through 28.

“Hello, Dolly!” next struts onto the stage with all the splendor and flourish the Rockaway Theatre Company is known for. Director Susan Warren Corning takes the reins of this well-known musical, along with musical director Jeff Arzberger and choreographer Erech Holder-Hetmeyer. The colorful story starts when flamboyant Dolly Levi, 1890’s New York City’s most well-known matchmaker and professional meddler, travels to toney upstate Yonkers to face her toughest challenge yet. But seemingly everything goes wrong in her quest to find a suitable wife for half-millionaire Horace Vandergelder and Levi faces a comic dilemma in realizing who the best candidate must be. Here with costumes, staging, sets, singing and dancing, the large RTC cast will put its own unique spin on this production, featuring the title song “Hello, Dolly!” and more. “Hello, Dolly!” takes the stage July 14 through 30.

Following up, “God of Carnage,” directed by Frank Caiati, climbs its way from civilized discourse to comic chaos. Two sets of parents meet to discuss a playground altercation between their respective children and resolve things like adults. Instead, they devolve into childish behavior as the evening goes on and their grown-up facades come crashing down. Speaking about the show recently, the ever-inventive Caiati noted even the set will be designed to aid in piling absurdity on absurdity like a roller-coaster sliding up to the hilarious point of no return. “God of Carnage” runs from September 8 through 24.

Remarking on the spectacularly accomplished Helen Keller, and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, Mark Twain once said, “Helen is a miracle. And Miss Sullivan is the miracle worker.”  No less of a drama, “The Miracle Worker” will close out the RTC season. Based on Keller’s autobiography, it has been powerfully adapted many times for stage and screen. Here, directors David Risley and Jodee Timpone will combine all their skills to give this production a spotlight all its own. Assembling a strong, talented cast, they will bring the entire audience along as they unfold the story of Helen’s journey from rambunctious, ungovernable beginnings to her first words, and the remarkable teacher who brought her there. 

“The Miracle Worker” will run November 3 through 19.

All performances are Fridays/Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors/children for musicals, and $20 adults and $15 for seniors/children for non-musicals. Tickets for all productions are now available at www.rockawaytheatrecompany.org.

“Make sure to make your reservations early for everything!” Peggy Page Press advises. Susan Jasper agrees, “People should reserve their seats early, as every performance is sure to be sold out. I, for one, can’t wait for our 2023 season to begin!”

Photos by Dan Guarino.

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