Theater-lovers in this region are used to seeing classic plays by high-profile playwrights on local stages, so it’s culturally newsworthy when new dramas and comedies, including original plays by our Hudson Valley neighbors, come to town.
Here are highlights of two such productions you can catch, both opening this weekend (for the sake of full disclosure, I appear in one of the productions).
YCP TheaterWorks presents ‘Diminished Capacity’
Sex, drugs, law and… disorder? In a notable departure from its standard practice of staging Broadway classics, YCP TheaterWorks is bringing to the Hudson Valley the world premiere of a compelling drama about the inner workings of the byzantine New York City justice system.
Albi Gorn, author of “Diminished Capacity,” is an award-winning playwright and Westchester resident (Hastings-on-Hudson) whose career as a court reporter afforded him a front-row seat of the very real people and events that populate his play.
In “Diminished Capacity,” a criminal defense lawyer is assigned to represent a young man who may well be innocent. Along the way, the audience encounters an arresting range of colorful characters engaged in clever subplots that would make Charles Dickens proud. Hard lessons are learned, relationships are re-ordered, and justice prevails – or does it?
The cast of local actors includes Tom Ammirato (Port Chester) as U.S. attorney Larry Weiskopf; Bruce Apar (Yorktown Heights) as City College English professor Ted Mastro; Melissa Chanza (Mohegan Lake, Yorktown) as court reporter Jennifer D’Onofrio; Lourdes Laifer (Cold Spring) as lawyer Miranda Morales; Dianne Roxy Pennington (Mohegan Lake) as defendant Lourdes Lluvera; Fred Rueck (Ridgefield, Conn.) as psychiatrist Robert Novak; Steve Schnapper (Yonkers) as Judge Kenneth Ryan; Gary Simon (Cortlandt Manor) as lawyer Herb Kramer; Donna L. White (Mahopac) as lawyer Cindy Hammond; and Nadja Winter (Scarsdale) as waitress/student Lola Sternberg.
“Diminished Capacity” is directed by Robin Anne Joseph of Hastings-on-Hudson, winner of the Best Play prize at the Aery 20/20 One-Act Festival in Garrison (N.Y.) in 2016 and 2015. Daphne Platt (Pleasantville) is assistant director and stage manager.
Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 4, 10 and 11 at 8 p.m., and on Sundays, Nov. 5 and 12 at 2 p.m. in Parish Hall of United Methodist Church, 1176 E. Main St., Shrub Oak, NY 10588.
Tickets, which can be purchased online at YCPTW.org, are $20 for adults; $18, seniors and students. A group rate of $10 per ticket applies to parties of 10 or more. For more information: 914-245-2184; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Axial Theatre presents ‘Nectar’
Katie Baldwin Eng’s “Nectar” is described by Axial Theatre as a “bright and bold new prize-winning play that tackles love, sex, birth, death and the power of magic.”
It will have its world premiere for a limited three-week run Nov. 3-18 at the company’s performing space in Pleasantville.
“Nectar” tells the story of a midwestern woman, pregnant and on her babymoon in a great European city, who encounters a celebrated French film star and discovers that they were both mistresses of the same legendary writer who now lies dying in a coma. An overnight vigil of astonishing revelations leads the beguiled and heartbroken to realize what it means to grow up, to love and be loved.
“Nectar” combines hilarity, enchantment and poignancy, as the play follows two strong women coming to terms with a dying man and their own pasts. Baldwin Eng, a Richard Rodgers finalist, is known for writing “plays that are like musicals and musicals that are like plays.”
Directed by Christina Roussos of Ensemble Studio Theatre in NYC, it features six women in a cast of nine, including eight members and associates of Axial Theatre. The play follows the company’s tradition of celebrating the work of women in theater as writers, directors and actors.
The cast includes Axial members and associates Catherine Banks (Ossining resident); Susan Ward (Ossining); Gail Greenstein (Katonah); Mary Roberts (Mount Kisco); Sandy Oppedisano (Dobbs Ferry); Anne Hammond (Bedford Hills); Michael Boyle Jr. (Ossining) and Patrick McGuinness (Brewster), and guest artist John Riley O’Handley of New York City.
“Nectar” is being performed weekends Nov. 3-18 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 8 Sunnyside Ave., Pleasantville, NY 10570. Tickets are $27.50; $22.50 for students and seniors. Student $10 rush tickets will be offered for this run if purchased one hour before curtain. For tickets, call 800-838-3006 or visit brownpapertickets.com (search Axial Theatre). For more information on Nectar: axialtheatre.org/what-s-playing.