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Theater

Humanity For Animals

Theater: ‘Animal Farm’

The cast of “Animal Farm” has pulled off an impressive feat on the intimate stage at TheatreWorks New Milford. 
Since the production features minimal props, simple costumes that look like long thermal underwear (there are no fuzzy animal suits in sight) and only a few well-placed pieces of music, the play hinges on the performers to bring George Orwell’s 1945 novella to life. For the 90-minute run time, the cast members shine as they give humanity to these animals.

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A Wild Show

Theatre: ‘The House of Blue Leaves’

It was a wild world out there in 1965, the year John Guare set his “very dark comedy” “The House of Blue Leaves,” which is currently running at the Sherman Playhouse. The Vietnam War was gaining steam and Pope Paul VI was coming to New York to address the United Nations, marking the first papal visit to America.

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Aglet Presents An Unsung Hero

Theater

Henrietta Leavitt worked at the Harvard Observatory from 1895 until her death in 1921. She created a standard for the photographic measurement of stars, and she discovered a fundamental relationship of properties in a certain type of star that enabled — for the first time — the accurate measurement of distances in the cosmos. 
Other astronomers — male astronomers — made those measurements, because she wasn’t allowed to do the follow-up work that sprang from her discovery.

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Great Cast For A Discomforting Play

Theatre: ‘The Taming of the Shrew’

I don’t know how a theater company can put on “The Taming of the Shrew” nowadays. I will confess to my lack of a classical education — the production at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck was my first time seeing it. 
As far as I could tell, the plot concerns a sociopathic woman named Kate who chooses to marry Petruchio, a man she hates, to get out of her father’s house. He abuses her, gaslights her, starves her and deprives her of sleep until she is broken and submits to his will. 

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Funny, Complex and Timeless

Theatre: ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’

The first thing we see in Tom Stoppard’s classic 1966 tragicomedy “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” performed by the Rhinebeck Theatre Society at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, is the title characters tossing coins. 
Every toss for the play’s duo comes up heads, 92 times in a row. We are entering a world that is decidedly not random, where the fate of the characters is as predetermined and unalterable as a coin toss that never varies.

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A Blind Date, A Charming Cast

Theatre: 'First Date'

Theater is a fragile thing. More fragile still are musicals about 20-somethings living in New York City, being Jewish, not being Jewish, doing what’s expected of them, trusting romantic interludes, not trusting romantic interludes and brooding about life in general — and blind dates in particular. 
Well, “First Date” is about all those things, and the audience at the Goshen Players’ production ate it up.

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Anne Frank’s Diary in Song

Theatre: ‘Yours, Anne’

It’s a heck of a thing, making a musical about Anne Frank based on her famous diary.
The topic is not exactly uplifting. The setting is claustrophobic. None of the characters are in danger of breaking into a show-stopping song-and-dance number, though all them could be discovered and deported to concentration camps. Which they were. Only Otto Frank, Anne’s father, survived.

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One Night With Don Juan

Theatre: ‘Don Juan in Hell’

For lovers of Mozart’s great opera, “Don Giovanni,” the idea of a lengthy conversation between the ever-amorous Don in hell and the commander he killed — whose daughter, Anna, the Don was menacing at the time (we think) — and the Devil is a big draw. 

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Love, Humanity And Reconciliation

Theatre: ‘Mothers and Sons’

“Mothers and Sons,” a play about homosexual men in New York City that opened for a three-month run on Broadway in 2014, has had much critical acclaim, some honors and a few short appearances around the country: about three weeks in Albuquerque, N.M., in 2015, and about a month in Philadelphia that same year.
The Ghent Playhouse opened its production of this knotty play — directed by Cathy Lee-Visscher — last weekend to a fairly large, more-varied-than-usual and very receptive audience.

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A Tale Of Late Bloomers

Theatre: ‘Calendar Girls’

The audience was wonderfully responsive. They laughed. They sighed. They clapped in the middle of scenes. They even cheered.
“Calendar Girls” at the Warner Theatre’s Nancy Marine Studio Theatre is more than a tale of love and friendship and what happens when people are willing to leave their comfort zones to support a cause. It’s a celebration of the human spirit.

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