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“Wouldn’t be a Woodstock reunion without a little mud, man.”
It rained at Bethel Woods on Arlo and Ringo, it rained on Santana and over at Yasgur’s, too. It rained over at Porchfest in Callicoon. I’m pretty sure it poured in Pennsylvania, but can’t swear to it, since I wasn’t there last week. What I am sure of is that it’s not raining now. Of course.
“Hey, c’mon man, it’s Woodstock weather!” said an affable old hippie as I snapped photos at Hector’s in Bethel, while apparently whining out loud. “It’s supposed to rain,” he added. “Wouldn’t be a Woodstock reunion without a little mud, man.” That was Last Thursday, and the annual tradition of “Hippie Thanksgiving” was just getting underway. I chatted with some folks who had attended the original festival in ’69 and recorded a few snippets as they reminisced and shared stories while petting the pooch. You can listen to these conversations by following The River Reporter on Facebook; you’ll have to scroll down memory lane a bit since those files were posted a week ago.
Hearing thunder in the distance, I tossed Dharma into her car seat and headed out to Forestburgh, NY to catch “The Producers” live on stage at the playhouse. “A new Mel Brooks Musical,” it says on the front page of the program, Just under that it read “Book by Mel Brooks” (and Thomas Meehan), “Music by Mel Brooks,” “Lyrics by Mel Brooks”… I’m surprised that Mel Brooks wasn’t there to usher me to my seat.
Actually, it almost felt as if he was in the theatre that night, because this production is pure Mel Brooks, including all of his zany, frenetic, corny, bawdy and incredibly funny, funny shtick. Leading the parade is Joel Briel (Max), who might be the secret love child of Brooks and Zero Mostel. He careened through the show with glee, taking the audience along for the ride. Scott Evans (Leo), Dirk Lumbard (Roger) and Jordan O’Brien (Ulla) were all perfectly cast and sang beautifully, while Andrew Berlin (Franz) did what his character is supposed to do and stole the show each and every moment that he was on stage. All of the supporting players were on point and the musical romp, replete with little old ladies tap dancing with their walkers, is a riot.
Brooks himself would “qvell” observing the audience, who laughed, guffawed and roared in approval over Braden Hooter’s beautiful set, Ashleigh Poteat’s costuming, and the all-important musicians, led by director Mark Galinovsky. Note to sound designer Travis Byrne: My friends in Wyoming said they could hear the show from their deck. Just saying.
And then it rained.
Word on the street was that the Post Office in Bethel, NY would be hosting a little party on Friday to celebrate the release of the new USPS stamp commemorating (uh huh) Woodstock, and that there would be a one-day-only special “Bethel, NY cancellation” on “anything you can put a stamp on.” And there would also be (this was almost just as important) cupcakes. In hindsight, I shoulda put a stamp on the dog’s collar, but instead I schmoosed with folks who brought maps, tickets and albums. I even chatted with young Charlie Pipher, who had his hand stamped and cancelled as everyone in line applauded. I was happy to see my own White Lake P.O. manager Maria Forlenza at the event along with P.O. operations manager Sherry Bertrand and district manager Elvin Mercado, who flatly said “no” when I asked if I could take his giant Woodstock Stamp home with me. Hmph.
Unsure of whether the dog’s stroller (don’t judge!) would fare well in the mud, I headed out to Yasgur’s Saturday morning nonetheless, sure that (as always) a good time was being had by all. Somehow, against all odds, Yasgur Road Reunion “steward” Jeryl Abramson has managed to make the place even more magical. The vibe was palpable; folks were still floating on cloud nine following the opening night ceremony, which included special guests Melanie and Michael Lang. Nope. I wasn’t there. Sigh.
I had a lovely few hours in the magical Yasgur woods with old friends before heading out, ponchos in hand, for The Doobie Brothers (who sounded amazing!) and Santana at Bethel Woods and night three of “Woodstock 50,” which, by now, is undoubtedly a new Mel Brooks musical extravaganza in the works.
Yes it rained, and no, I didn’t care. Why? Because it was Santana, and there isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a person alive who doesn’t love Santana. In My Humble Opinion.
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