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Park Slope theater company pens new musical and lends cast for upstate troupe’s fundraiser

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Most people who’ve seen the film "All About Eve" or the Broadway play "Noises Off" probably came away with the impression that theater people are backbiting, ruthless opportunists.

But Brooklyn Family Theater (BFT) exposes the lie of that stereotype with the generous support it is offering Jay Entertainment and Music Society (JEM), an Adirondacks-based theater located in the city of Jay, near Lake Placid.

BFT founder Phill Greenland, who frequently vacations in the Adirondacks, discovered JEM through Jay’s Web site.

"I got to talking to several people who were board members of JEM and I found they were very similar to BFT - very grassroots and community-based," Greenland told GO Brooklyn. "I found out they were embarking on this big project - buying an old firehouse and turning it into a theater. Being people who like to do good things and have adventures, we decided to help them out."

Greenland volunteered BFT’s services for a fundraiser, a co-production called "The Music Hall Revusical" that unites producers, directors and performers from both New York City and Jay - all working on the show, several hundred miles apart.

"It would make me happy if we sold out and made seven or eight thousand dollars," Greenland says about the May 7 performance at Lake Placid Center for the Arts. The cost of purchasing and renovating the firehouse are estimated to be as high as half a million dollars.

Searching for a musical that was "largely musical and a lot of fun," Greenland thought they might as well just write one. He came up with the idea of writing a musical that recreates a night at an old-fashioned vaudeville music hall.

"The Music Hall Revusical," which Greenland describes as "a new old-fashioned vaudeville musical," is "about a company of actors in Great Britain in the year 1905, performing a music hall show."

The show is replete with backstage drama.

"There’s a point where the soprano refuses to come on stage and they have to substitute other acts until she’s ready. The soprano has an 11-year-old son who comes to the theater because his nanny won’t stay with him, and he ends up being in the show. An Irish stagehand becomes a performer because they don’t have anyone else," says Greenland.

Greenland researched material and integrated 11 vintage music hall songs into his script. He wrote the music and lyrics for 13 additional numbers.

The six New York City cast members include Andrew Deichman as the Cockney leading man, Andrew Bevan as the knock-about comedian, Shana Hughes as the soprano leading lady, Christina Neubrand as the ingenue, Dawn Trautman as the goofy comic lady and Jonathan Valukas as the chairman (which is the forerunner of the modern emcee).

All - except Hughes - have appeared in BFT productions. They are currently rehearsing in Park Slope and sending CD recordings up to the Adirondacks.

Kathy Recchia, a JEM board member, is Greenland’s co-producer. She is also stage manager and publicist for "The Music Hall Revusical."

Recchia says she learned more about BFT through her son, Sam, who met Travis Bloom (who played Conrad Birdie in BFT’s "Bye Bye Birdie") while they were both in a play in Westport, N.Y. "So we knew they were real," she says.

It was Recchia who found two of Greenland’s actors - Tyler Nye, a high school senior who plays the Irishman, and her son, Sam Balzac, who plays the 11-year-old. She is also hosting the New York City cast members in her bed and breakfast, The Book and Blanket, when they come up to Jay.

"We’ve got three guest bedrooms and trundle beds," she told GO Brooklyn in a telephone conversation. "We think it’s going to work."

 

The Brooklyn Family Theater and Jay Entertainment and Music Society present "The Music Hall Revusical" at Lake Placid Center for the Arts (91 Saranac Ave. in Lake Placid) on May 7. General admission is $15, reserved front row seating and reception is $30 and VIP priority seating (rows 1 through 3) and reception is $50. For more information, call (518) 523-2512 or e-mail info@lakeplacidarts.org.

Brooklyn Family Theater plans to bring "The Music Hall Revusical" to Park Slope this fall.

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