Fairs and Festivals

Once again, it’s that lovely and amazing time of year: summer. After a terribly long, icy winter and slow-starting spring, the sun is shining — and the region is bursting with events ripe for the picking. Whether you’re looking for quality theater, classical music, family fun, or anything in between (and we do mean anything — classic motorcycles, anyone?), there’s a fair or festival somewhere in the Valley to help you celebrate the season

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Powerhouse TheatreThe Powerhouse Theatre celebrates its 25th anniversary this year

Photograph by Walter Garshagen

Powerhouse Theater

June 26-Aug. 2

Looks like it’s a big year for Valley theater: Ellenville’s Shadowland turns 25, and so does Vassar College and New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater. Long admired for nurturing new works by both fledgling and established writers, actors, and directors, Powerhouse is celebrating its milestone with several special performances, such as a sneak preview of The Burnt Part Boys (July 17-26); a concert reading of Whisper House by acclaimed playwright Kyle Jarrow and featuring music by Tony winner Duncan Sheik (July 10-11); and the premiere of Valley native Keith Bunin’s Vera Laughed (July 22-Aug. 2).

Both The Burnt Part Boys and Vera Laughed will be presented in full on the Mainstage, and The Burnt Part Boys will officially premiere off-Broadway in 2010.

“It’s great producing the Bunin piece, because he’s from Poughkeepsie,” Producing Director Edward Cheetham says. Not only did Bunin — a successful playwright and writer on the award-winning HBO drama In Treatment — grow up in Poughkeepsie, he cut his professional writing teeth at Vassar. “When I was about 13 I took a summer film class at Vassar,” he recalls. “About 10 years later they hosted my first professional reading, of my play Principality of Sorrows. So it’s apropos for Vera Laughed to premiere here.” The play is about Russian writer Ivan Bunin, rumored to be a distant relative of Bunin’s. The first Russian to win a Nobel Prize in literature, Ivan Bunin lived the last several decades of his life as an exile in France, where he wrote only about Russia, in Russian, and so garnered little commercial success. “It’s a way to look at my heritage and family history,” says Keith Bunin, in more ways than one. It will be the first time Bunin has been home for a stretch since college.

Duncan Sheik, the co-creator of the Tony-winning musical Spring Awakening, returns to Powerhouse this summer with his latest collaboration, Whisper House. A haunted lighthouse musical written by Kyle Jarrow and directed by Keith Powell (30 Rock), Whisper House will enjoy a two-week developmental workshop culminating in a two-night concert reading. “The Powerhouse run has two goals,” explains Jarrow. “The first is to do revisions, working on improving the piece and making it work better. The other is — because it’s a musical — integrating the music and the text.” From the beginning, however, the piece was a collaboration. “Musicals often are,” says Jarrow. “You don’t usually have more than one writer on straight plays.” Though further production plans have yet to be disclosed, with three such accomplished bosses, Whisper House is surely destined for success.

For more detailed scheduling information, visit http://powerhouse.vassar.edu.


Up next: Rhinebeck Grand National Super Meet



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