2008-08-15 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance

All Things Considered, I'd Rather Be In Philadelphia
Commentary By Susan Hartenstein

Geoff Rawling and RAA Friends Geoff Rawling and RAA Friends ARTSPLASH SUBMISSION DEADLINE ALERT!: Friday, August 15. Visit RAA website for full details.

The successful directing team of Michael Wotypka and Peggy Page collaborate once again for the Rockaway Theatre Company (RTC), this time on the company's new production, "The Philadelphia Story." For Wotypka, there is a special connection to and a special insight into this classic romantic comedy. The 1940 film version with Katharine Hepburn is a particular favorite of his; and he is from Philadelphia (as is cast member Catherine McEntee). Thus, he is quite familiar with the "language of the Main Line [the city's upper crust]," as Wotypka puts it. Its stylized tempos and precise diction. (Think Grace Kelly.) Timing, he insists, is essential to this witty, funny, frothy script by playwright Philip Barry. As are the interplay, misconceptions and snobbery among the social classes. But at the play's core are the frailties, strengths and passions that define us all as human beings.

Any stage or film classic from another era expresses certain mores and characteristics from that era. But when asked what makes this timeless piece relevant for today's audience, Wotypka responded that it is more relevant today than ever. "The Philadelphia Story," set in the 1940's, deals with reporters from a gossip magazine, "Spy," covering a society wedding and the hilarious complications that ensue. "We're living today in a celebrity age. Before You- Tube, gossip magazines were a main form of celebrity snooping," says the co-director. "And what constitutes the ideal mate is still a question that confronts each of us." Co-director Peggy Page says, "Mike knows this play inside-out - every line, every character, every nuance."

When asked what she loves most about this production of "The Philadelphia Story," she responds, "The characters. They are real characters. All have their own personalities. And watching the actors grow into their characters." She has especially enjoyed directing Nancy Sturgis in her first nonmusical role for RTC. Sturgis' long list of musical credits for the company includes Anna in "The King and I" and Liza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady." And doors. Page loves doors (of which there are four in this play) opening and closing, punctuating entrances and exits. Remember the finalé of "Lend Me a Tenor," which Page directed several years ago? Talk about doors! She also loves the great cast and crew, all of whom are totally dedicated and passionate about what they do. She asked that special mention be made of Tony Homsey, set builder and technical supervisor; Cliff Hesse, for his set painting and decoration; and Jim Cantirino, artistic supervisor and designer. All of them worked quickly and with much talent to set the actors and action in their 'posh' environment.

Performances for "The Philadalphia Story" are August 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30 at 8 p.m.; August 17 and 24 at 2 p.m. at the Post Theater in Fort Tilden. For tickets and information: 718-850- 2450.

Book signings by local authors: On Monday, August 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Seaside branch of the Queens Borough Public Library, Dan and Liz Guarino will present a talk, slide presentation and signing event for their book, Images of America: Broad Channel. The library is located at 116-15 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, on the corner of Beach 117 Street. Copies of the book, an interesting exploration through vintage photographs and text of the history and people of the community, will be available for purchase. Owners of the book are invited to bring them to be signed by the Guarinos. According to Broad Channel publisher, Acadia Publishing, the book will be available at Waldenbooks, Borders, and Barnes and Noble. It is also available online through www.Target.com, www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com. Members of the Broad Channel Historical Society will be selling it, as will Wharton's Pharmacy on Cross Bay Boulevard and 9th Road, and The Gift Is Love at 223 Beach 116 Street.

A book signing takes place on Monday, August 25, 6- 8 p.m., in front of On the Rocks at 450 Beach 129 Street for the new illustrated children's book, "What's Our Names?" by Les Kraft and illustrated by Jim Cantirino. Anyone bringing an ad for this book appearing in The Wave in the two weeks previous to the signing will be given a complimentary CD of the lively song on which the book is based. There will also be prizes, candy and other giveaways. After the event, Sammy's Variety Store on Beach 129 Street will be the exclusive local vendor of the book, which is also available online at: www.amazon.com. Read all about this fun volume in the July 25 issue of "From the Artist's Studio."

Remember: There is a new feature on the RAA website. The home page now includes a calendar of events. Here RAA will list classes, general meetings, the Summer Moons schedule and much more. Check out: www.rockawayartistsalliance.org

It's a new organized way to keep up with RAA events.

Do you have a new, creative, refreshing idea for an RAA exhibition? Want to curate a show and believe you are qualified to do so? Are you an artist interested in doing a solo show? RAA wants you! The Exhibitions Committee is developing the 2009 schedule. So if you fall into any of the above categories, please contact RAA. In picture, RAA campers & counselors playing outdoor sports at camp this summer.

RAA CONTACT INFO: Phone: 718 474-0861; Fax: 718 474-4373; e-mail: rockart116@aol.com; website: www.rockawayartists alliance.org .

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