Free performances of Once Upon a Mattress run July 16 through 25 in Clifton Park (7/16/2010)
By GLENN GRIFFITH
The Clifton Park stage on the Common is being transformed into a fictional medieval kingdom stocked with royalty, court jesters, posers, and commoners. The transformation is all part of the Not So Common Players’ summer production of “Once Upon A Mattress.”
The 1959 musical comedy is based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, “The Princess and the Pea.” When first performed on Broadway, “Once Upon A Mattress” marked the debut of a young Carol Burnett.
Tonight, the stars are all local theater lovers.
The curtain goes up on the hijinks at 7:30 pm for each of the seven performances, July 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, and 25.
All performances are free.
Lawn seating with blankets and chairs is recommended, along with a good supply of insect repellent. The stage is near the Clifton Park Adult Community Center on the Common.
The play’s producers recommend viewers arrive early each night to take advantage of roving pre-play demonstrations of medieval entertainment, which puts the audience in the proper mood.
“This is a fun play that has a lot of fun songs in it,” said Not So Common board member and publicist Sally Burke. “We’ve got a lot of new faces this summer and this particular play and the way the cast is handling it should provide a lot of entertainment.”
With 34 actors and a live pit orchestra, the troupe will tell the tale of a calculating Queen Aggravain’s attempts to end the brewing romance between her son Prince Dauntless the Drab and his suitor, Princess Winnifred the Wobegone.
The leads are performed by Kevin McNamara as King Sextimus the Silent and Janice Walz as his wife Queen Aggravain. Christine Verderese performs the role of Winnifred and Mike Mensching will be the beleaguered Prince Dauntless.
McNamara is also the play’s choreographer. The director is Sky Vogel, the musical director and conductor is David Rossi, and the set design was done by Peter Kantor.
This is the 28th show from the Not So Common Players. The troupe was formed in 2001 to entertain area residents in the summertime with a single musical theater production.
The company was asked by town officials to do a second show the following year as part of the town’s 175th anniversary. The troupe has been treading the boards ever since. During the winter, the company performs musicals as well as cabaret shows in the Shenendehowa School District Little Theater.
In recent years, the southern Saratoga arts community has lobbied the town for a cultural arts center where theater and musical performances as well as art exhibits can be held year around.
In January, the Not So Common Players officially became a not-for-profit organization, allowing the group to fund raise.
“The town has been very good to us,” Burke said. “We are still 100 percent supported by them. Being a non-profit just allows us to quickly dispense small amounts of funds when its needed to keep us on schedule.”
Burke said Once Upon A Mattress was selected as this year’s production by the play’s director Vogel. “We put out calls for area directors from time to time,” Burke said, “then we ask them what play they’d like to direct. This one was suggested by Sky. It’s a popular family show and that’s what we do in the summer. It should be a lot of fun for everyone. We’ve had a lot of requests to do it.”
For more information on the play or the acting troupe the Not So Common Players’ Web site is: www.notsocommonplayers.org.
Leading man surprises leading lady with real marriage proposal on stage in Clifton Park (5/7/2010)
By BARBARA LOMBARDO
When leading man Matt Streifert stepped onto the stage for the final curtain call of last Sunday’s matinee of the Not So Common Players’ production of “The Fantasticks” in Clifton Park, he did more than bow.
He got down on one knee and asked the leading lady to marry him.
Alana Sangiacomo said yes, and sealed the deal with what looked like more than a stage kiss.
Sangiacomo and Matt Streifert have been an item since they met on stage during the troupe’s performance of “The Spitfire Grill” in October 2008.
Streifert was confident about his proposal: He had arranged for cast members from “Spitfire” and other former shows to be on stage, along with “The Fantasticks” cast, and members of both families were in the audience, all in on the secret.
Though they both live in Albany County, they are familiar faces in community theater presented in Saratoga County. He starred in the recent production of “Curtains” at Home Made Theater in Saratoga Springs, and she has been a First Night soloist since 2003, as well as performing at other Saratoga Springs events.
Alan Sangiacomo, the father of the bride-to-be, says the couple is planning a wedding for the summer 2011.
The final performances of “The Fantasticks” at Shenendehowa High School are Saturday night, May 8, and Sunday afternoon, May 9.
Troupe celebrates 10 years on stage (1/15/2010)
By GLENN GRIFFITH
CLIFTON PARK – The Clifton Park-based Not So Common Players acting troupe will celebrate its 10th anniversary next week with a three performance retrospective of its work.
“An Uncommon Encore Celebration” will tie together the 25 musicals the group has produced during the past decade. Local playwright Marty Egan will write the narrative with Dian Dippold. David Rossi and Dippold will reproduce the productions’ musical numbers, and staging will be done by Tom Heckert.
The three performances will be given in the second floor meeting room of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library, 470 Moe Road. Curtain time is 8 pm for the Jan. 23 and Jan. 24 performances and 2 pm for the Jan. 24 matinee.
The room will be configured to seat 250 and all seats, as usual with the troupe’s performances, are free.
The retrospective will include many of the more popular musical numbers from the company’s past shows with many of the actors who performed them. One unique feature of the new production will be a rare appearance on the boards from Clifton Park supervisor Philip Barrett.
“We’ve put on 35 shows in our 10 years and entertained over 35,000 people,” said the production’s co-producer Sally Burke. “We’ve had over 100 actors who have worked with us and about 40 are planning on returning to reprise their roles for the show.”
In addition to celebrating its 10 years in operation the company will also be publicizing its new status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Its application was accepted in August. Past performances from the Not So Common group were funded solely through a line in the Clifton Park town budget. Now as an official non profit acting company Burke said its members can go out and fund raise and the company can buy advertising for upcoming shows.
The company will also be able to take its productions on the road.
“In the past we’ve had limited budgets for each show so we’ve passed the hat and scrimped and saved and found all kinds of ways to make our budgets go further,” Burke said. “Now we’ll be able to receive donations that can be written off the donor’s taxes. You need money to do fund raising and we’ll be able to do that now.”
Any funds raised by the troupe will stay with the organization rather than revert back to the town. Whatever extra is left after paying for a show will go toward purchasing better sound and lighting equipment, Burke said. Underlying the question surrounding the status of the arts in town is the hope that eventually the community will get its own arts center with a performance space.
“At some point we’ll get one and we want to be ready to move in when we do,” Burke said. As she recalled all the work that went into the past performances Burke gave a special nod of thanks to developer Bob Miller of Windsor Development who donated rehearsal space to the acting company in his Village Plaza.
“The community really reached out and supported us and we thank them all but without Bob’s help giving us a place to rehearse I don’t know what we’d have done,” she said. “I suppose we’d have worked it out as we always do but having that space in the mall was just great.”
Over the years the troupe has produced standard musical Broadway fare as well as quirky locally written shows, off Broadway shows, and musical revues. Past performances include Broadway summer stock hits like “South Pacific,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “The Pajama Game,” and “Guys and Dolls.” The company has also produced the Egan-scripted satire on winning the lottery, “27 Million,” an ode to the music of the 50s, “Rockin’ the Night Away,” “The Spitfire Grill” and “Godspell.” Many of the productions will be represented in “An Uncommon Encore Celebration” production.
“It’s amazing,” Burke said, “we started by trying to put on one summer show and it just kept mushrooming.”