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Just a weekend in the country

August 30, 2012

When Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics for “A Little Night Music” back in 1973, it’s unlikely that he was thinking about my weekend, or, for that matter, this part of the country. Even mid-week, I was whistling a happy tune, though—blissfully unaware that the Stone Temple Pilots (STP) and I don’t really agree on what a little night music is.

The “90s alternative rock” (read loud—really loud) band appeared at Bethel Woods ( last Wednesday, and it would appear that the group still thinks it’s 1993 (the last time anybody really cared). Opening act “The Crash Kings” did its best to deafen the small crowd, and then we waited. And waited. STP finally hit the stage at 10 p.m. while audience members shouted things like “we have to go to work in the morning!” and “c’mon already, we’re not getting any younger out here!” Once STP got going, I realized that (even with ear plugs) my hearing was in danger of permanent damage. Suffice it to say, not my favorite evening at one of my favorite spots in Sullivan County.

Sondheim’s clever lyrics go on to describe his idea of a weekend in the country as “amusing... and delightfully droll,” and although it was only Thursday, I took heed and made my way to the Forestburgh Playhouse ( to catch Loretta Swit in Bob Barry’s frothy comedy “Murder Among Friends.” Joined by cast members Dan Fenaughty, Ellen Pavloff, Steve Davis and Zachary Bencal, Swit was clearly intended as the star of the show, having become a household name during her 11-year run on television’s M*A*S*H. It’s always lovely to see Loretta at the playhouse, and I looked forward to catching her in a comedy this time out—but did not foresee her costar (the playhouse’s producing director) Norman Duttweiler stealing her thunder. I’m sure it was unintentional, but Duttweiler’s hilarious portrayal of Swit’s foil, husband Palmer, kinda-sorta stole the show.