Henry VIII, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Ruth, and an utterly mismatched pair of middle-aged roommates. That's just a handful of who patrons can expect to see on the Bristol Valley Theater stage this summer — along with performers both new and familiar to the BVT stage. And a world premiere, plus one "swinging" musical evening.
Bristol Valley's summer season kicks off next weekend with the return of what was for many years a BVT staple, a musical revue. This year, it's a broad theme — "So Happy Together: The Music of the Swingin' '60s" — covering an entire decade's diverse musical offerings, from protest folk to Motown's smooth soul, from the British Invasion to psychedelia and beyond.
"We hadn't done one of the revue shows for a couple of years — I really missed it," said BVT Executive Artistic Director Karin Bowersock. And the Sixties is a particularly fertile musical era, "chock-full" of choices, she said: "The real challenge has been narrowing it down rather than have several shows!"
Musical director Michael Radi and director Katelyn Cantu, veterans of previous musical revues on the Bristol Valley stage ("Family Matters," "365: A Year in Review"), helm this show, which will feature four performers: familiar face Brian Ziemann and, debuting at BVT, Brianne Wylie, Martin Flowers and Jessie Carina Lanza.
"So Happy Together" opens Thursday, June 13 at Bristol Valley Theater, 151 S. Main St. in Naples. Shows are at 8 p.m. June 13-15, 2 p.m. June 16, 2 p.m. June 19, 2 and 8 p.m. June 20, 8 p.m. June 21-22, and 2 p.m. June 23. Tickets for this show — and for each summer show, for that matter — are $35 ($14 children through age 18, $19 students with college ID, $33 seniors 60 and up, $27 groups of 15 or more). The box office is open from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays, plus one hour before showtime; tickets also can be ordered at bvtnaples.org.
(There's something of a sneak peek this Saturday, June 8, at Hollerhorn Distilling, 8443 Spirit Run, Naples, when members of the "So Happy Together" cast will perform as special guests as the band Upstate headlines the evening. The music is from 8-10 p.m.)
Next up at Bristol Valley, Bowersock takes the stage herself in a one-woman show presenting the remarkable and multi-faceted life of a woman most people know in one public role but who's much more than that. Bowersock becomes the famed sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer in Mark St. Germain's "Becoming Dr. Ruth" (July 27 through June 7) which debuted last October at JCC Centerstage in a JCC/co-production.
"This is the remarkable story of the life of a woman who not only changed how we view sexuality but who really lived an incredible life," Bowersock said — escaping the Nazis as a German Jewish child as part of the "Kindertransport," trained as a sniper in Jerusalem, struggling as a single mother in New York City in days when that was less common. "How she always faced the challenges of her life with such a positive life-force is something that's always flabbergasted me about her," Bowersock said. And she's still at it, writing and speaking publicly into her 90s.
"The great thing about this show is you sort of get a side of her that wouldn't have gotten based on the public persona," Bowersock said.
Music, comedy and mystery converge in the two-man show "Murder for Two" (get it?) in which Michael Radi (the "So Happy Together" music director) plays a detective and Joseph Donohue III plays a rotating pack of outrageous suspects — and both actors (virtuoso pianists, says Bowersock) jump over to steal turns at the piano to accompany each other. Written by Kellan Blair and Joe Kinosian, "Murder for Two" runs July 11 through July 21.
And speaking of mystery, the Great Detective himself is the star of the next show, Katie Forgette's "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily" (July 25 through Aug. 4), which brings Holmes (Chris J. Handley, in his ninth season at Bristol Valley) and Dr. Watson (Jim Ditmars) into contact with real-life figures of their day, including starlet Lillie Langtry and playwright/raconteur Oscar Wilde. The case: Lillie is being blackmailed due to an illicit affair with a royal. (Holmesphiles, take note: On its website BVT has confirmed the involvement of that Napoleon of Crime, James Moriarty.)
"The Roommate" by Jen Silverman (Aug. 8-18) is something of an odd-couple play featured two middle-aged women who are polar opposites — straight-laced, recently divorced, Midwestern mom Sharon (Shannon Haddock) and the roommate she takes in, Robyn (Judith Annozine) — her polar opposite, a woman on the lam with a few secrets that come to the fore. A friendship develops, one that changes both women's lives — and straight-laced Sharon finds herself partnered with Robyn in the pot business. "There is money to be made in some of the questionable aspects of Robyn's life," Bowersock said.
Making its world premiere at Bristol Valley, "The King's Legacy" — written by Radi, who's having one busy summer at BVT — is about Henry VIII and the intrigues of the Tudor court and his battles with the Pope as he obsessively quests for a male heir, a pursuit that takes him through six marriages and a break with the Church. Ironically, when the king got his male heir, he never truly ruled — Edward VI was crowned at age 9 and died at age 15.
"The show is interesting in that it's told from the point of view of the women who are shunted aside for his search for a male heir — but it's actually a woman who saves the country after his death," Bowersock said — Queen Elizabeth I. "The 'King's Legacy' is a woman."
"The King's Legacy," which closes out the summer season, runs Aug. 22 through Sept. 1.
It's CMAC season
We're well into spring — and knocking on summer's door — and you know what that means around these parts: The big-name acts come 'round to take the stage at Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center (CMAC) in Hopewell.
The 2019 CMAC season kicks off this Friday, June 7, with a concert by the folk-rock/Americana band The Avett Brothers, who combine elements from many genres — and many instruments — for their unique sound. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the music starts at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $30.
Also this weekend, country duo Brooks and Dunn — back on the road the past few years after retiring the act in 2010 — will perform Sunday, June 9, at 7 p.m., with gates open at 5:30 p.m. and ticket prices staring at $35. Canadian country duo High Valley will open the show.
So begins a season of customarily diverse acts, including R&B (Michael McDonald & Chaka Khan), classic rock (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alice Cooper), a cappella pop (Pentatonix), '90s rock (Bush/Live), alt-country (Jason Isbell), a Beatles tribute (Rain) and much more. For the full season schedule, and ticket information, visit cmacevents.com.
Geneva Music Festival continues
The Geneva Music Festival continues this weekend, with three concerts planned in the city — with a definite emphasis on the work of women in music as composers and performers:
June 6: "Women Composers Across the Ages," which features female composers spanning 10 centuries, including Hildegard von Bingen, Fanny Mendelsohn and Jennifer Higdon. (It'll conclude with a piece by Mendelsohn's brother Felix.) It starts at 7 p.m. in the Gearan Center of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva.
June 7: April May Webb and Randall Haywood, who made their festival debut last year as part of T.S. Monk's ensemble, return with their own ensemble, S.O.A.R. (Sounds of April and Randall), performing various permutations of jazz — swing, cool, hard bop and the avant-garde. The concert is at 8 p.m. at Club 86, 86 Avenue E, Geneva. (There's an optional three-course dinner at 6 p.m. for $30; call 315-789-4955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
June 8: A night of jazz featuring Broadway star Syndee Winters and jazz singer, songwriter and actress Ann Hampton Callaway, paying tribute to jazz artists in the National Women's Hall of Fame housed in Clifton Springs — artists such as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. S.O.A.R. will make a guest appearance, and Melissa Kate will open. It's at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Center for the Arts, 82 Seneca St., Geneva.
Individual tickets are $25. Details: genevamusicfestival.com.
Kids play with some Prime Time pros
Following its eighth year as house band for April’s Rochester Music Hall of Fame awards concert and its recent 23rd anniversary show at Lovin’ Cup, Prime Time Funk (PTF) will return to Webster Schroeder High School (875 Ridge Rd., Webster) for the seventh annual Spry Evening of Jazz on Friday, June 7 at 7 p.m. The concert will feature three Spry jazz ensembles (6th, 7th and 8th grades), plus the 10-piece funk/jazz/R&B band, giving the kids the chance to interact with the pros. It's PTF's third time playing the Spry concert.
The free event is sponsored by Spry Cultural Arts.
June 7 is the first Friday of the month — and in the Rochester arts scene, that means it's open house at many area artists' studios, galleries and other venues. Check http://www.firstfridayrochester.org/ for a rundown of events (including exhibit openings and more) planned at area venues.