Adirondack Theatre Festival puts fresh, unique works on stage
GLENS FALLS, N.Y. » Chad Rabinovitz ends every curtain speech at Adirondack Theatre Festival saying, “What you see here, can’t be seen by anyone else in the world.”
The producing-artistic director of the Glens Falls professional summer theater company explained that because the company is dedicated to new work the experience for audiences is “always genuine and authentic.” He adds, with a slight laugh, “I hope entertaining and exciting as well.”
As an example, he uses, “Some Lovers,” a new musical that opens tonight at the Wood Theatre and plays through June 23. It’s not only a new musical, but, sounding as if filled with pride, he calls it, “a fresh new musical by Burt Bacharach.”
To make things clear, Rabinovitz firmly makes the point that “Some Lovers” is not a Bacharach “juke-box musical.” “It’s all new music connected to a very romantic story,” he says.
Adding to the uniqueness of the work it is a collaboration between Bacharach and Steven Sater, a writerpoet whowon a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical with “Spring Awakening.” “Some Lovers” is inspired by the O. Henry short story “Gift of the Magi.”
Though “Some Lovers” is new, it has been tested. The work has had a workshop production at the Old Globe in San Diego, and another workshop in London. It was offered in a concert version at Lincoln Center last year. The Adirondack Theatre Festival was hand-picked by the producers for this fully mounted grand opening.
Rabinovitz credits ATF’s history of new work as a reason to be selected as an opening venue for a work almost every musical theater company would kill to have. “We’ve developed a national reputation for being nurturing to artists and to new work. He says that in the industry, Adirondack Theatre Festival is known as ‘ the hidden gem in the Adirondacks.’”
He also says that because of his strong subscription base the shows are well attended. “Producers and artists appreciate playing to full houses”, he says. He adds, “It’s not only the size of the house. We have smart, knowledgeable audiences. Artists learn a lot about what works or doesn’t work here.”
Rabinovitz points to the second show of the season to further explain the excitement of new work. “Loch Ness,” which plays July 5-14 involves a giant puppet, which the producer says, “cost tens of thousands of dollars.” He feels the expenditure and logistics of getting the massive puppet to work in the Wood Theatre is worth the effort and expense to delight his audience and serve the play.
“If we only wanted to do a show using a large puppet we could have produced ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ I expect it would be pretty good and entertaining. But “Little Shop…’ is something audiences have likely seen somewhere else. They expect more from us. They look to us to give them work they can’t experience anywhere else. That’s what makes us special.”
He doesn’t deny the need for audiences to feel a little safe, even with new work. Indeed, how threatening can a musical by Burt Bacharach be? Or for that matter, a work with a loveable Loch Ness monster?
The pattern continues with the final two shows. Rabinovitz calls “The Jedi Handbook,” “a nostalgic coming of age show.” However, he insists it is not limited in appeal to the fans of “Star Wars.” “It will remind everyone about that moment they discovered an interest in something that would remain in their lives forever. In ‘Jedi Handbook’ it’s Star Wars. It could be baseball, music, theater or girls. It captures, in a nontrivial way, what it means to come of age.” “The Jedi Handbook” plays July 20-27.
As for “Front Page Flo,” a musical about a newspaper woman living in post-World War II, challenged by Soviet spies in New York City, Rabinovitz calls it a “golden age tap dancing musical.” “My goal is for audiences to feel as if they are seeing a classic musical for the first time.” It closes the season August 3-9.
For tickets and schedule information and news about special events, log on to atfestival.org or call (518) 480- 4878.
Works from composer Burt Bacharach and writer-poet Steven Sater will be featured at the Adirondack Theatre Festival in Glens Falls.