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August 30, 2014
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Something old, something new

The DIGit installation currently at the Loft Gallery in Narrowsburg, NY is interactive.


I find myself looking backward this week, so the last event I covered is still fresh in my mind, but not necessarily fresh. Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” is currently playing at the Rivoli Theatre in S. Fallsburg, NY (www.scdw.net) and having been written in 1939, certainly falls under “something old.”

I’m unsure, regardless of the numerous interpretations for stage, screen and radio (over lo, these many years) that the piece still holds up under scrutiny. I’m a huge Christie fan, but would be hard pressed to invent a new way to present this material without it appearing just a bit creaky. It would appear that director Bunny Wolosczak was equally uninspired and (IMHO) the show is a little tired.

I believe that audiences today are much more sophisticated than when this piece was originally produced, much less in any of the dozens of major productions created between the original in 1945, and the last incarnation done in 1989 (which was set on safari in Africa). There are some decent performances, but (personally) I would have left the English accents at home (as several of the other major productions had chosen) and looked for a new angle.

Adding to my confusion was the promo material, which clearly states the “None” is based on Christies’ novel “Ten Little Indians”—but in this version, the all-important nursery rhyme is repeatedly called “Ten Little Soldiers” (yet another of the far too many rehashed interpretations). I left the theatre underwhelmed, but curious to know what others might think.

On June 3, I found myself at the Alliance Gallery (www.artsalliancesite.org) for a bit of “something borrowed,” since mixed media artist Charles Wilkin concentrates much of his work on collage “derived primarily from the study of headlines, sound bites and idle conversations.”

I spoke with Wilkin during the opening reception and found him charming, even when sharing that I found some of his pieces disturbing. “My work is essentially a product of its environment,” his artist’s statement explains, and he was unfazed by my assessment, finding it “totally valid, art being subjective and all.”

Upstairs at the Loft Gallery, running in conjunction (June 3 to 25) is DIGit, a digital media exposition running throughout Narrowsburg, NY during the month of June.

Short digital films are presented for an individual (headphone) experience, and they run the gamut from serious to comical and even one with local interest at its heart. I experienced a few of them, while others milled about, and found both gallery installations interesting. Judging by overheard conversations, all of the work was stimulating the crowd, and I am always pleased to hear that there are pieces being purchased at these art shows.

Speaking of “something new,” I was amused and entertained beyond compare by the Forestburgh Theatre Arts Center (FBplayhouse.org) never-seen-before new musical “Idaho!” Billed as “hysterical”—I was nervous, but IMHO, they really got it right. A cleverly crafted, brilliantly conceived homage to Rogers & Hammerstein’s classic “Oklahoma,” this show is so ready for a sparkling marquee in New York City. The book is a riot, the dozens of songs (many of which are a tip o’ the hat to its inspiration) are actually hilarious and I did indeed leave the theatre humming a few.

Comprised of a topnotch cast (several of whom arrive in Forestburgh with Broadway credits), and armed with director Matt Lenz’ firm (dare I say hysterical?) grasp on the material, stars will be born. Austin Miller, Jessica Hershberg, Will Taylor and Alle-Faye Monka were so in the zone, it was difficult to not miss a line here or there, since the laughter and spontaneous applause was deafening at times.

The supreme talents of Susan Mosher and Paul Vogt were equally matched by the amazing vocal prowess of Romelda Teron Benjamin, who tore the place up. Jay Rogers and the “Meany Boys,” played by Dustin Smith and Elliot O’Rourke Peterson, added even more pizzaz as they joined a well rounded, multitalented cast—singing, dancing and (yes, it’s a little blue) entertaining to beat the (great sounding) band.

I understand that it’s only my opinion here, but I was so amused, that I am returning for another go ‘round (the show runs through June 12) with this clever, clever show. Creators Buddy Sheffield and Keith Thompson most certainly deserve a major shout-out, along with the crew that designed, lit, costumed, choreographed and musically directed (you rocked it, Steven Cuevas!)

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Something for everyone, so I declare: go out and do!

jonathan fox

Hey Jonathan! (FYI)

Agatha Christie's original title was "10 Little Niggers". That had to be changed. Human Rights.
The title was changed to "10 Little Indians". That HAD to be changed. Our Native Americans were insulted!
The resulting (copywritten) title is now, "And Then There Were None".