By George Basler
Having survived their COVID-disrupted 2020-21 seasons, local performing arts organizations are gearing up for the return of a full slate of live productions this fall.
Leaders believe there is pent-up demand for live performances. “The actors and staff are chomping at the bit,” said Tim Gleason, artistic director of KNOW Theatre. However, they emphasize that organizations will comply with any government safety measures in place when their shows open. This may mean requiring audience members to wear mask and show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Here is an overview of some events planned for the fall season. For more information on how to order tickets, ticket prices and COVID protocols, check each organization’s website.
Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra
The Binghamton Philharmonic’s fall season will start with a 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25 concert at Broome County’s Forum Theater in Binghamton. The program, conducted by Daniel Hege, will feature Pizzicato by Vivian Fung, Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 in D Major,= and Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. The guest soloist will be Julian Rhee, a past winner of the Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition.
Other scheduled fall concerts are:
• Clocks and Clouds, an instrumental trio that combines classical instrumentation with rock aesthetics, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Endicott Performing Arts Center.
• “The Magical Music of Harry Potter,” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at The Forum (pre-concert organ recital 7-7:20 p.m. featuring Nancy Wildoner of the Binghamton Theater Organ Society).
• “Ascend,”7:30 p.m. Nov. 13, The Forum, featuring Starburst by Jessie Montgomery, Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll and Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 (the Jupiter Symphony).
• “Home for the Holidays,” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, The Forum, program of holiday favorites with guest soloist Ayana Del Valle (pre-concert organ recital by Wildoner, 7-7:20 p.m.).
A highlight of BPO’s season will be the January 2022 Wallenberg Festival. Organizers hope the event will become an annual celebration of the late Fritz and Marianne Wallenberg’s lasting legacy of symphonic music in the Southern Tier, Philharmonic Executive Director Paul Cienniwa said.
A 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29 concert at The Forum will include the BPO, the Binghamton Community Orchestra and the Binghamton Youth Symphony. The event will feature reduced price tickets.
Scheduled performers in the spring include Cherish the Ladies and the Christopher Bill Quartet.
For more information, visit www.binghamtonphilharmonic.org
Binghamton Community Orchestra
The community orchestra hopes to come back to live music performances for the 2021-22 season, a posting on its website says. Plans are taking shape and will be announced on the site, Evan Meccarello, music director, said.
As mentioned above, the BCO is scheduled to participate in the Jan. 29 Wallenberg Festival Concert.
For more information, visit www.binghamtoncommunityorchestra.org.
Binghamton University Theatre Department
The Binghamton University Theatre Department’s website lists two mainstage productions for the fall.
The department will present Triptych: An Experience in Three Acts, directed and adapted by Professor Elizabeth Mozer, Oct. 21-24 in the Anderson Center’s Chamber Hall. Live song will link together three plays – Self Help in the Anthropocene by Kristin Idaszak, The Stronger by August Strindberg and The Jewish Wife by Bertolt Brecht — to focus on three women in a cross section of time and circumstance.
From Nov. 18-21, the department will present the new musical revue, In Pieces by Joey Contreras. The musical, with a pop-influenced score, explores the romantic journeys of eight contemporary 20somethings seeking love. Performances will take place in the Watters Theater.
A student-directed studio production of the Broadway hit play Proof will be performed Nov. 4-7 in Studio B in the Fine Arts Building.
For more information, visit www.binghamton.edu/theatre/productions.
Binghamton University Anderson Center
The Anderson Center on the Binghamton University campus has a full season planned for 2021-22. Scheduled for this fall in the Osterhout Concert Theater:
• Black Violin Impossible Tour, Sept. 23. Black Violin features two classically trained string instrumentalists, Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste, who merge classical arrangements with modern beats.
• Vienna Boys Choir: Christmas in Vienna, Dec. 8.
A full schedule will follow in the winter and spring with five concerts and an appearance by novelist Margaret Atwood. Performers will include The Polish Wieniawski Philharmonic Orchestra, Tango Argentina and the bagpipe/rock blend of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.
For more information, visit www.binghamton.edu/anderson-center/.
Broadway at Binghamton
Broadway at Binghamton will resume bringing touring musicals to The Forum Oct. 19-20 with Escape to Margaritaville, featuring both original songs and Jimmy Buffett classics.
The remaining schedule is:
• An Officer and a Gentleman, Feb. 23-24, 2022, a musical adaptation of the Oscar-winning film.
• Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, March 29-30, featuring more than 20 of the disco diva’s classic hits.
• Waitress, April 19-20, based on the movie about a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and rocky marriage.
• Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, May 17-18, with new songs as well as the tunes from the original film.
Season tickets, starting at $185, are available now by calling (607) 772-1391. Also on sale now are tickets to Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story on Nov. 14. This show was originally scheduled for March 29, 2020; tickets for the original performance date will be honored for the rescheduled date.
For more information, visit BroadwayInBinghamton.com.
Chenango River Theatre
The Chenango River Theatre in Greene opened a limited season on Aug. 27 after being cleared by Actors’ Equity Association.
The season’s first offering is Ben Butler by Richard Strand. Billed as a smart and funny discourse on race, protocol and our sense of humanity, the play had an off-Broadway run in 2016. It takes place in the middle of the Civil War at Virginia’s Union-held Fort Monroe under the command of General Benjamin Butler. When three escaped slaves show up seeking sanctuary, Butler is faced with the moral dilemma of whether he should follow the letter of the law and return them to the Confederacy or make a game-changing move that could alter history.
The production will run through Sept. 19.
Bruce Graham’s The Craftsman will run Oct. 8-24. The play, commissioned and presented by the Philadelphia-based Lantern Theater Company, as part of its New Works Initiative, is a fictionalized account of the infamous case of artist and art dealer Han van Meegeren, accused of selling rare Vermeer paintings to the Nazis. The CRT production is only the second staging of the play.
For tickets and more information, visit www.chenangorivertheatre.org.
Cider Mill Stage
Cider Mill Stage in Endicott, with its new management team, BLAST (Bold Local Artists of the Southern), opens the season Sept. 17 with It’s Only a Play by Terrence McNally. The play, which was a major off-Broadway hit, is a comedic send-up of the often painful process of producing a play. The BLAST cast is a roster of well- known local actors including Jan DeAngelo, Shannon DeAngelo, Jessica Pullis and Chris Nickerson. It runs through Sept. 26.
This production will be followed Oct. 29-Nov. 7 with the thriller Deathtrap by Ira Levin. The play holds the record for the longest running comedy thriller on Broadway.
The next offering, Nov. 19-28, is Plaid Tidings, a special holiday edition of Forever Plaid, a revue that features the close harmony of guy groups that was popular in the 1950s.
The fall season will conclude in December with the Cider Mill’s 41st anniversary production of A Christmas Carol. The production is an adaptation of the famous Christmas story by John Bielenberg with original music by Susan Peters and Ken Martinak.
For more information, visit www.cidermillstage.com.
Endicott Performing Arts Center
EPAC will start its fall season Sept. 23-26 with a staging of the classic Broadway musical Man of La Mancha. The production is a collaboration of the EPAC Repertory Company and Theater Street Productions. The performances will begin at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The EPAC Repertory Company also will stage the Broadway hit Something Rotten! Nov. 11-14.
The first weekend in December, the EPAC Dance Company will perform the Nutcracker ballet in collaboration the Fuse Dance Center of Binghamton. The second weekend in December, EPAC will stage a Christmas variety show.
All performances will take place in the Robert Eckert Theater, 102 Washington Ave., Endicott, and will be live streamed as well.
For more information, visit www.endicottarts.com.
The KNOW Theatre in downtown Binghamton stayed active by streaming two productions this spring, but the company hasn’t had a live audience in its Carroll Street venue since March 2020.
That will change this month when the company revives Anne Nelson’s The Guys, about a New York City writer helping a New York City fire captain prepare eulogies for members of his crew killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (KNOW also staged the play in 2006 and 2011.)
The production will run Sept. 10-26 and will mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks, said artistic director Gleason. Nelson will join KNOW for talk backs after the Sept. 17 and 18 performances.
KNOW, which is known for staging provocative, cutting-edge plays, will follow The Guys with a staging of Gideon’s Knot Oct. 8-24. The play focuses on the confrontation between a grieving mother and her son’s teacher after the boy’s suicide.
The fall season will end with the 18th annual Playwrights & Artists Festival Nov. 19-28. The festival features six short plays inspired by three artworks.
“It’s a blessing to get back,” Gleason said.
For more information, visit www.knowtheatre.org.
Madrigal Choir of Binghamton
The Madrigal Choir of Binghamton is planning to return to a full season with four concerts scheduled between October and April at Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church in Binghamton.
Admission will be free to all the concerts as the choir works to reestablish its connection with audiences, said Bruce Borton, the choir’s artistic director. “We think this will be a nice gesture to the community,” he noted.
The first concert, scheduled for 3 p.m. Oct. 24, will feature choral works of Beethoven and his contemporaries, Borton said. The choir’s (almost) annual holiday concert, “Lessons and Carols,” will be at 3 p.m. Nov. 27 and 28.
To greet the new year, the choir will dress in Renaissance costumes and perform “Twelve Night,” a concert of Renaissance music, at 3 p.m. Jan. 9, Borton said.
Finally, the Madrigal Choir will combine with Trinity’s choir to perform Forsaken of Man by Leo Sowerby at 3 p.m. April 3. Sowerby was an American composer and church musician who won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1946 and was called “the dean of American church music” in the mid-20th century.
In addition to performing the work live, the two choirs are hoping to record the concert, Borton said. “Everybody’s chomping at the bit to be back,” he said.
For more information, visit www.madrigalchoir.com/2/.
SRO Productions III
SRO, now in its 35th year, is planning to stage the musical Dogfight in November, according to its website.
The musical, by the composers of Dear Evan Hansen and The Greatest Showman, has been performed Off-Broadway and internationally. It focuses on the off-beat romance between a U.S. Marine being deployed to Vietnam and an idealistic, awkward waitress and is an adaptation of a 1991 film of the same name.
For more information, visit www.sroproductionsonline.com.
Ti-Ahwaga Community Players
Ti-Ahwaga Community Players in Owego will resume live performances in October with a production of Spamalot, adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Like the movie, the musical is an outrageous spoof of the Arthurian legend of the Knights of the Round Table.
The production will be a revival of the show that was in the middle of its run in March 2020 when COVID-19 forced a shut down. The orchestra and 15 cast members, with one exception, will the same, said Diane Arbes, board president.
A membership and sponsorship drive, which generated a cushion of money, helped the community theater survive during COVID, Arbes said. The organization also took the opportunity to revise its website and update its logo during the past 16 months.
Spamalot will run Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 8-10 at the Ti-Ahwaga Performing Arts Center, 42 Delphine St., Owego. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.tiahwaga.com.
Tri Cities Opera
TCO will begin its season this month with The Falling and Rising, a 90-minute chamber opera featuring the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus.
The opera — with music by Zach Redler and libretto by Jerre Dye — takes place largely in the mind of a soldier following a roadside attack. It follows her through a coma-induced dreamscape as she has powerful encounters with fellow service members. The story was taken directly from interviews with returning soldiers at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center, The Old Guard at Fort Myer and Fort Meade, Maryland.
The Sept. 16 production at The Forum will be free, said John Rozzoni, executive director. TCO also will film the opera for broadcast on Veterans Day on WSKG-TV and WCNY. The company hopes to recruit a small chorus of local veterans to join the chorus for the opera’s climax, Rozzoni said.
TCO is planning a holiday festival concert to be digitally streamed Dec. 5. The company’s spring production, Cinderella by Gioachino Rossini. will be performed April 10 in The Forum.
TCO is filming the children’s opera Stone Soup for digital distribution to local schools in the fall and spring. The company plans a live production for next May.
For more information, visit www.tricitiesopera.com.