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Queens Chronicle

Theater — Musicals rule this spring

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Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2009 12:00 am

Echoing recent big-ticket Broadway revivals of classic musicals like “West Side Story,” local theater groups are turning to splashy, feel-good fare to lure audiences as the second half of the busy spring season continues to heat up.

Over the next few weeks, marquees across the borough will be ablaze with names of well-known tunefests, as well as more obscure non-musical attractions.

Among the early entries, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic, “The King and I,” will be presented by the Andrean Players starting April 24.

Under the direction of Paul Canestro, Judy Insinga plays strong-willed English school teacher Anna Leonowens, while Rob Fahn takes on the role of the King of Siam.

Musical director Pat White will lead the cast through such numbers as “Hello, Young Lovers,” “Getting to Know You,” and “I Whistle a Happy Tune.” Choreography is by Andrea Miele.

Performances will take place at St. Andrew Avellino Church, 35-60 158th St. in Flushing, on April 24 and 25 and May 1 and 2 at 8 p.m. and April 26 and May 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and children. For more information, call (917) 753-8410.

Opening one night later will be another time-tested musical, Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!,” based on the Dickens classic, “Oliver Twist” and presented by the the St. Mary’s Drama Guild.

Directed by Ann Smith, the cast is headed by James Wise in the title role, supported by Conor Phelan as the conniving Fagin and Jennifer Sanchez as the Artful Dodger. Musical direction is by Rick Lionarons and the choreography duties will be tackled by Carole Stines.

Performances will take place at Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, 70-20 47th Ave. in Woodside, on April 25 and May 2 and 9 at 6 p.m. and May 3 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $9; $7 for seniors and children. For more information, call (718) 672-4848.

The musical genius of Rodgers and Hammerstein will take center stage again when “Cinderella,” comes to life courtesy of the FSF Community Theatre Group, opening May 2 for a limited run of three performances.

Tristen Buettel performs in the title role, with the role of her Prince Charming played by John-Alexander Sakelos. Elizabeth Bell will weave her magic as the Fairy Godmother and Maryellen Pierce, who also choreographs, will appear as the less-than-magical Stepmother. Musical direction is by Paul Johnson.

Performances at the Free Synagogue of Flushing, 41-60 Kissena Blvd. in Flushing, will take place on May 2 and 9 at 8 p.m. and May 3 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15; $13 for seniors over 60 and children 10 and under. For more information, call (800) 260-6789.

Hammerstein’s protege, Stephen Sondheim, wrote both music and lyrics for the next production set to hit the Queen’s stage, Parkside Players’ rendition of “Company.”

Under the direction of Ray Bonett, the cast is headed by Nick Radu as a perennial bachelor, Robert, who finds himself surrounded by an assortment of married friends. In the role made famous by Elaine Stritch, Valerie Keane will have the opportunity to salute “The Ladies Who Lunch,” in the show’s best-known number. Musical direction is by Richard Louis-Pierre.

Performances at Grace Lutheran Church, 103-15 Union Turnpike in Forest Hills, will take place on May 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. and on May 17 and 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17; $14 for seniors. For more information, call (718) 497-4922.

Theatre By The Bay presents the popular fifties musical romance, “The Pajama Game,” opening June 6. With music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, the show concerns the efforts of pajama factory workers to obtain a seven and a half cent raise. Among the show’s songs are such favorites as “Hey, There,” “Hernando’s Hideaway” and “Steam Heat.”

Lead performers are Scott Eckers as the new company superintendent, Michele Mazzocco as the union head who quickly falls in love with him, and John Canning as an overly-dedicated time-study man. Supporting players include Melissa Kankowski and Eli Koenig.

Direction is by Lawrence Bloom; Patricia Giannattasio provides musical direction; and choreography is by Danielle Cretaro.

Performances will take place at Bay Terrace Jewish Center, 13-00 209th St. in Bayside, on June 6, 13 and 20 at 9:15 p.m. and June 7, 14, and 21 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $18; $16 for seniors and children. Group rates available. For information, call (718) 428-6363.

Among the non-musical offerings this season, “Exit the Body” a farce by Fred Carmichael, will be the attraction at Theatre A La Carte beginning April 24.

Directed by Susan Emro, the play focuses on a female novelist who has rented a house in a small New England town in order to concentrate on her writing. Before long, she has to deal with a body in the closet, some hidden diamonds, and other distractions.

Mary Lynch plays the novelist, with Amy Wolf as her secretary. Jennifer Lamb appears as the requisite maid, and in a reprise of the role he tackled over a decade ago, Dan Curran plays the sheriff.

Performances at the Community Church of Douglaston, 39-50 Douglaston Parkway, will take place on April 24 and 25 and May 1, 2, 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. and April 26 and May 3 and 10 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $14; $12 for seniors and children. Opening night includes the group’s traditional meet and greet party. For more information, call (718) 631-4092.

Douglaston Community Theatre presents “To Grandmother’s House We Go,” a serio-comedy by Joanna Glass. Set in a large Victorian house in Connecticut, the play focuses on grandma and various relatives, all of whom have requests to make of her.

Tom Williams directs the ensemble cast, consisting of Annette Daiell, Marionanne Rourke, Marilyn Welsher, Teresa Zugger, Lenne Parisyan, Lisa DeCarlo, Jim Thomas and Keith Junas.

Performances at Zion Episcopal Church, 44th Avenue off Douglaston Parkway in Douglaston, will take place on May 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 8 p.m. and May 3 and 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $14; $12 for seniors. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information, call (718) 482-3332.

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