They’ll be swell, they’ll be great!
The Gallery Players will launch its 50th season with the brassy show-biz musical “Gypsy” — an announcement that came by means of a song. At the Park Slope theater company’s fund-raising party on May 21, singers revealed the four musicals in the upcoming season by belting out show-stoppers from those plays — giving the show tune-savvy among the crowd a few moment’s advance notice before the name of the musical flashed onto the stage.
The party was a unique way to mark a momentous anniversary, said the group’s artistic director.
“We’ve never done anything like this before,” said Mark Harborth. “But we needed a little boost for the 50th.”
The company’s 50th season will close with the musical “Ragtime,” about the American experience at the dawn of the 20th century. Other musicals will include Sondheim’s “Marry Me a Little” and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” performed in repertory, with “Charlie Brown” at matinees and “Marry Me” at night.
“We try to include some shows that need a second look,” said Harborth. “Shows that didn’t do well on Broadway, or might do better in a smaller theater — which is where ‘Marry Me a Little’ comes in.”
The season will also include three straight plays: “A Few Good Men,” the comedy “The 39 Steps,” which recently closed Off-Broadway, and “Sweet Bird of Youth,” by Tennessee Williams.
At the launch party, about 75 supporters and volunteers perched at small tables decked with bouquets of feathers and Playbill covers — which came down throughout the night, as people behind strained to see. Between musical numbers the host, Roger Gonzales, of the site Local Theatre New York, introduced the spoken plays. He also raffled off the night’s 45 prizes, most of which were donated by local businesses.
When Gonzales’s voice flagged, he exhorted people to buy more raffle tickets, saying: “I know some people said ‘You need a microphone.’ That’s why we’re having a fund-raiser! To get a better sound system!”
The night raised about $2,800 for the Players, said Harborth. The money will go to improving the stage manager’s booth and installing central air-conditioning.
One multiple raffle-winner shrugged apologetically to the crowd while collecting her third prize.
“I bought 90 tickets!” explained Sonia Valentin. The Bensonhurst resident, who also volunteers with the theater’s costume department, said that she attends the Gallery Players because the shows are amazing.
“I’m happy to win, but we bought 90 tickets because we wanted to contribute to such a fantastic theater company,” said Valentin “As far as the quality of the work, the quality of the acting — it’s just as good as Broadway.”