Saturday, November 23, 2019

Memo from the RTC: A Weekend of Mirth and Merriment

The WAVE - Nov. 22, 2019

Memo from the RTC: A Weekend of Mirth and Merriment
By Norm Scott

Are you having trouble finding reasons to laugh in today’s troubled world? Then get yourself down to the Rockaway Theatre Company this weekend for the final performances of the hysterical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” I hadn’t intended to write about the show due to the superb weekly coverage, Backstage With the RTC, by Fionnuala O’Leary which has given us so many insights into the performers and other movers and shakers at the theater.

As one of the videographers, I taped opening night. But looking through a camera and not having the best location to hear everything well I don’t always get the nuances and subtleties of a show. So I always go back as a regular audience member and I did so last Saturday night, accompanied by my wife and four friends. We joined the rest of the audience in laughing our heads off. With the cold and dark days we have entered, being able to laugh so freely for a couple of hours put me in a great mood for the entire weekend.

Actually, the weekend began early Saturday morning on a great note with a yoga class with Barry at Burn Fitness followed by a group of us going out for great breakfast at The Last Stop. So I was very relaxed and ready to laugh Saturday night when we hit the theater after dinner at Tiberios. I was still smiling Sunday morning for a 7:30 hot yoga class with Missy at Hot Yoga Rockaway Beach. And the smiles turned to wild laughter later that afternoon when we went to Symphony Space in the city to see the political review and hilarious song parodies of The Capitol Steps. We especially love the enormously talented leader of the group, Mike Thornton, who is a friend of a family member. (We got to meet him last summer when he emceed a memorial tribute to a family member who died). He and his troop wowed us for an hour and a half with songs such as “Oops I Tweeted Again”, “Fiscal Shades of Gray” and “Impeachable You.” Following a seafood dinner on Amsterdam Avenue I returned to Rockaway as a very happy fella and feeling I had to share some of the joy.

But the linchpin of the weekend was Spelling Bee (wish I could share some of the funny lines but I don’t want to ruin it for you) and I had to come back to this space to rave about the show, especially the nine performers and the enormously talented Catherine Leib in her first time directing and multiple time choreographing. Catherine has delighted us on stage for thirteen years, so seeing the outcome of her work behind the scenes is wonderful.

Now I don’t have room here to talk about the nine cast members and Fionnuala has been giving them space in her weekly profiles but I do want to make a general point about how the actors playing children manage to pull it off to an extraordinary extent. And of course the three adults in the room are also extraordinary. Having seen most of these performers in other roles that are so different from these only emphasizes what great actors they are.

One more point that I gather every week from Fionnoula’s reporting is how these actors emphasize the supportive environment the RTC provides. Seeing them look so confident on stage you might not realize that actors are often insecure and need a cocoon of sorts to make them brave enough to take on greater challenges than they might have thought they were capable of. This comes through time and again. So the real star of the RTC is the RTC itself.

This show ends the RTC season and Monday Tony Homsey and crew will take down the fabulous set that mimics a real school gym and start building sets for the upcoming children’s shows in January and February. See you next year unless there is some new RTC news to report.

Norm posts writes on politics, education and whatever pops into his head on his blog

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