Good news for typologically challenged drama fans: You no longer need to remember whether Ellenville’s delightfully restored vaudeville house calls itself the Shadowland “Theatre” (correct) or “Theater.” Since the organization has acquired another building on nearby Center Street and is now in the process of adapting part of it into a 99-seat black-box venue for smaller-than-usual productions, the growing arts entity has been rechristened Shadowland Stages.
In February, Jon Wojciechowski was welcomed as Shadowland’s new executive managing director, and will co-lead the organization along with producing artistic director Brendan Burke. If taking some of the arts-administrator duties off Burke’s shoulders means that he gets to focus more of his energies on directing plays, audiences should be very pleased indeed. Wojciechowski has a track record of managing theatres in Maine, New Jersey and Boston before landing at Shadowland, and he was recently featured in American Theatre Magazine as a “person to watch” in the industry.
Shadowland’s 32nd season gets underway this Friday with the Hudson Valley premiere of Last Gas, with Burke directing. It’s the latest bittersweet romantic comedy by John Cariani, whose previous works – including Almost, Maine and Love/Sick – have reportedly helped him surpass William Shakespeare as the most-produced playwright in American high schools. The script for Last Gas is so new that it won’t be published until later this summer.
Last Gas tells the story of lonely Nat Paradis, a part-time dad who runs his family’s convenience store in rural northern Maine. Nat’s boring life suddenly sparks to life when an old flame returns home to bury her mom – on the very same day that Nat’s best friend shows up with the gift of a lifetime: Red Sox vs. Yankees tickets. The pressure on Nat to make the right choice grows with unwelcome input from his forest ranger ex-wife and his randy old father. Cast members Ben Williams, Zach Gibson, Ray Faiola, Samantha Rosentrater, Caroline Kinsolving and Chris Tennison will all step up to the challenge of staying in character while delivering their best Mainer accents.
Olivia Gemelli is the stage manager for Last Gas, with lighting design by Mitchell Ost, sound by Jeff Knapp and costumes by New Paltz theater legend Aletta Vett. The set, designed by former Shadowland artistic director Bill Lelbach, was built in the scene shop of the Chenango River Theatre in Greene, New York (which will be mounting a production of Last Gas in July) and trucked to Shadowland.
The show opens on Friday, June 3 and runs through June 19, with evening performances Thursday thru Saturday beginning at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinées at 2 p.m., plus a special “First Saturday” matinée on June 4, also at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $39 for all evening performances, $34 for Sunday matinées and $29 for First Saturday. To order or find out more information, call the box office at (845) 647-5511 or visit www.shadowlandstages.org.