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Theaters Revive Some Venerable Hits

Theater Scene
compass@lakevillejournal.com

For these pious Russian Jews at the turn of the 20th century, it’s a narrow world of poverty, grinding labor and religious custom. God hovers. Marriages are arranged. Men are educated, some of them, women, not so much — and everyone in the shtetl lives in fear of expulsion. Pogroms in Eastern Europe have scattered Jews all over the globe.
“May God bless and keep the czar . . . far away from us,” the Rabbi prays.
It was not to be, of course.
We already know that.

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Theater Life, After School

Starting Out on Stage
compass@lakevillejournal.com

To the music, “Step, step, slide, kick,” teacher chants as her dozen students passé and pivot to a recording of “Dance With Me Tonight,” a bouncy little bass-heavy number recorded by Olly Murs.
This is a special Saturday morning dance workshop run by Kristin Altfather, a Rockette invited by the Warner Center for Arts Education in Torrington to give these youngsters a taste of the professional dancing life.

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A Fishing Story, Kinda

Theater: ‘Zara Spook and Other Lures’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Yes. Zara Spook is a lure, for catching bass. It’s plump and white, and it skitters, drawing fish to the surface, just the way love and fame and a thirst for revenge do in Joan Ackermann’s “Zara Spook and Other Lures.”
It’s also about women competing in the great Bass Classic in Truth or Consequences, NM. Really.
Ackermann’s people are peculiar and dear, even Mel (Thom Whaley) who unleashes his shotgun repeatedly at Ramona (Ariel Bock), his wife and a champion angler on her way to New Mexico.

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You Musn’t Go Home Again

Theater: ‘The Subject Was Roses’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Alone in the living room, John Cleary tries on his son’s Army jacket. It’s tight, and he takes it off before anyone can see, anyone being his wife, Nettie, and their boy, Timmy.
That’s how Frank Gilroy opens his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “The Subject Was Roses” about a wildly troubled middle-class family in the Bronx.
It’s the 1940s and young men are returning from war. Timmy (Matthew Bagley) is one of them, but he is not heading into peace and security. The Cleary household is another kind of war zone. The soul-killing kind.

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Asking for Trouble

Theater: ‘A Man for All Seasons’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Ah! Americans love British drama about class, intrigue and, when possible, royalty. Take, say, “My Fair Lady,” “Downton Abbey,” or, even better, “A Man for All Seasons,” this last drawing good-sized audiences to Rhinebeck’s Performing Arts Center.
This Centerstage Production has it all: beginning with an incorruptable polititian in Sir Thomas More, the king’s chancellor, who insists that the rule of law must be defended, no matter the cost.

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A Bad Time For the Truth

Theater: ‘Pack of Lies’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

The title says it all: In Hugh Whitemore’s “Pack of Lies,” everyone has reason to skirt the truth. Not sensible reasons, nor lofty reasons nor even pernicious reasons. But lies lead the way because truth is hard.
This Cold-War tale, set in 1961 and written a couple of decades later, involves spies who do not own up to the role, and patriots who cannot take on their role without destroying friends.

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‘Adjustments’ Gets Another Reading

Ilene Tetenbaum and Gloria Miller, both from Salisbury, will see their play “Adjustments: A Gentle Comedy for Cynical Times,” get a partial reading at 7:30 p.m., March 23 at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, MA.
This play, about a woman losing a husband and seeking another, is part of an evening about women and their stories being presented by Made in the Berkshires, part of the Berkshire Theatre Group. In addition to several play and poetry readings, the evening will conclude with a conversation with the writers and a glass of prosecco.

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Theater, for the Joy of It

The Theater Scene
compass@lakevillejournal.com, leong@lakevillejournal.com

Shakespeare & Company’s production of Moliere’s “The Learned Ladies” is a nonstop romp through the rarefied, shallow, upper class world of Louis XIV.
Gorgeously costumed and playing on a sumptuous set, a talented cast of young actors hurls translator Richard Wilbur’s rhyming couplets at each other in a game of “who gets the last word.”

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Theater of Hotchkiss

Avery Baldwin and Evangeline DiMichele rehearse their roles in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” playing Feb. 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 19 at 2:30 p.m., at Hotchkiss School’s Walker Auditorium.
This Pulitzer Prize-winning play is directed by Marcus Olson, the school’s new director of theater.
For information, call 860-435-3203.

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Like No Other

Theater: ‘Urinetown, The Musical’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Musicals are fairy tales. Some are jolly, like “Annie.” Some are grim: “Urinetown, The Musical,” for one.
Grim, perplexing, riveting.
At its heart, “Urinetown,” about a drought-ridden city and the corporate takeover of all toilets, is one long potty joke surrounding a tale of political domination and urban struggle. “Let my people pee” is scrawled on one wall of the grimy and admirably baleful set in this Ghent Playhouse production. But the UGC, the Urine Good Company, is totally in charge, forcing people to stand, squirming, in line waiting to pay for the UGC latrine.

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