3 plays, 3 days: Blithe Spirit, Blaq Boi, King and I

There is also a jittery maid whose very presence is quite amusing.

There was no master plan in seeing 3 plays in 3 days the fist weekend in May. Indeed, it was quite the opposite.

Back in March, I “won” a silent auction at a PTA function at my daughter’s middle school for a play at Capital Rep, which turned out to be Blithe Spirit. Our first three weekends were already full. By the time I tried to redeem the coupon for the last weekend in April, the seat selection was extremely thin; an obstructed view here, very far to the right there.

Fortunately, Blithe Spirit was extended an additional week, and my wife and I got very good seats on Friday night. I was unfamiliar with the 1941 Noel Coward work. From the Wikipedia:

“Socialite and novelist Charles Condomine… invites the eccentric medium and clairvoyant, Madame Arcati, to his house to conduct a séance, hoping to gather material for his next book. The scheme backfires when he is haunted by the ghost of his annoying and temperamental first wife, Elvira, after the séance. Elvira makes continual attempts to disrupt Charles’s marriage to his second wife, Ruth, who cannot see or hear the ghost.”

The production was quite hilarious especially as Charles responds to Elvira, and Ruth believes he is talking to Ruth. There is also a jittery maid whose very presence is quite amusing. Coincidentally, there was a violent thunderstorm outdoors as there was a mock storm in the theater, which we were unaware of until much later.

Saturday, my wife and I left the Cinco de Mayo party to pick up the Daughter and see Blaq Boi, written and performed by students at Albany High School. It was primarily about Treasure, a young man at various points in his life. The play also used news clips and some music to tell the story.

It was quite compelling, especially the second half. It was so well received that the principal wants all the teachers at the high school to see it on an upcoming Professional Development Day.

There was discussion afterwards featuring a black Albany police officer and how he joined the force nearly 30 ago , after seeing some young black men treated less than respectfully by local cops.

Finally, on Sunday, the three of us saw The King and I at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady. We experienced the 1951 musical back in June of 2011 at the Mac-Haydn Theatre, about 45 minutes away, and while it was a fine performance, this production, on a large stage, was quite exquisite.

The struggle between modernity and tradition, of power politics and gender roles is based on a real story. There are several well-known tunes such as I Whistle a Happy Tune, Hello Young Lovers, and Getting to Know You, though the song I most recognize is the instrumental March of the Royal Siamese Children.

It was a tiring but satisfying weekend, which also featured being treated like visiting royalty when I attended Free Comic Book Day at the local comic book emporium.

“Blaq Boi” new play May 3-6, Albany HS

The play is a celebration of black America through the reflections of a diverse Albany High School playwriting team.

The Albany High Theatre Ensemble uses the stage to tackle issues of race and identity in the Promising Playwrights Festival’s upcoming production of “Blaq Boi.”

The four-performance run of the student-written play opens at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 3 with shows at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 4 and 5, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, May 6.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors.

“Blaq Boi” is the story of Treasure, an African-American male. It follows his journey from childhood to adulthood and delves into the myriad challenges black men face growing up and living in America.

“Though the play boldly addresses issues of institutional racism, white privilege, and internalized oppression, it is also a celebration of black America through the reflections of a diverse Albany High School playwriting team,” said Theatre Ensemble Director Ward Dales.

The play was written by students Camille Dobbs, Jacklyn Flynn, Thia Fowler, Sion Hardy, Jaidyn Hires, Xji-Anne Hudson, Zanief Washington and Immanuel Williams, and teacher Gregory Theodore Marsh. Marsh also directs the play.

The play contains strong language and may not be appropriate for very young audiences.

You can learn more from this video or by visiting the Albany School District website.

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