Milestones ahead for Batavia Players

Feb 2, 2012


BATAVIA -- Batavia Players Inc. will reach two milestones during its 2012 season.



The just-started season is the 80th for the community theater troupe, which will also present its 10th "Shakespeare in Springtime" production.



The season features 10 public events, including two nights of special film programs. An adult theater education program could bring the number of events produced by Players to at least 14 in 2012.



The schedule may be Players' busiest ever, said Patrick Burk, president of Batavia Players.



"It is a wonderful season and I am so happy that we have been able to have the support of our community and our volunteers," Burk said.



Players' plans seven full-scale productions, including a pair of original plays from Burk, for its second season at Harvester 56 Theater, 56 Harvester Ave., the former sheet-metal factory.



Burk's plays bookend the performance season. This month, "The Summer of Four Friends," tells of a summer vacation to Maine by a group of long-standing friends whose relationships are experiencing changes. The season ends with Burk's "Christmas Dreams," a collection of vignettes and songs to brighten the holiday season.



In between, will be Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in March, followed by Stephen Sondheim's "Company" in May, the revue "On Broadway -- Third Time's the Charm" in June, an August production of "Camelot" for the company's annual Summer Youth Theater show; and "That Mysterious Agatha Christie!," a night of one-act plays by the famed mystery writer, in September.



The theater will also see performances by the Honesty Theater group and other special events.



New to Players' programming are two nights of film screenings. Rob Marshall's movie musical "Nine" will be shown April 20, and two early movies from acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky, "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream," are scheduled Oct. 12.



"I love doing film discussions and it is a great extension of both our education programs and our ability to provide a widespread interest in our space," Burk said.



Burk choose this year's films. He wanted to represent an adaptation, an early effort by a famous director and a full-length drama that is not mainstream. By choosing the two Aronofsky films "people can look at where he has come from with the widely-viewed 'Black Swan' that came out last year," Burk said.



Back on the boards, Players' "Shakespeare in Spring" production has become a staple of the area's theater community. For its 10th show, Players looked back to its first, "A Midsummer Night's Dream."



"I did not look 10 years down the road when we first started bringing Shakespeare to this area on a regular basis," Burk said. "I knew that if it was done right and with consistently high quality it would gain an audience and a solid group of actors that like to be involved year after year."



Burk attributes the program's staying power to "a genuine interest, an educational component and also talented cast members and designers."



The 2003 production featured a moving carousel on stage. Burk says the play to be presented in March will be an all-new production that will "provide new insight into one of Shakespeare's most popular plays.'



"This production is totally different than the one that was presented 10 years ago," Burk said. "I think it will be very well received by the public."



In a quirk of scheduling, Batavia Players will present Stephen Sondheim's "Company" in May at the same time Geva Theater Center in Rochester is mounting a production.



"I am fine with the shows being so close geographically," Burk said. "It will spur interest and our ticket prices are great so maybe actually help us sell tickets. I love Geva, it is where I got my start as a child and I think it is wonderful that this real classy musical is being offered in both venues. It is nice that we have been afforded the rights for 'Company' while it is being done near by with a professional group. I can assure you ours will be chuck full of quality and success as well."



The busy season will see public performances in Harvester 56 Theater in 11 of the year's 12 months. And in the month the venue doesn't have a performance, it will be busy with rehearsals for its summer youth theater production.



Last season, Players staged seven productions, six in the Harvester Theater that opened in February. Those productions ran 25 shows, selling out 11.



"I could not be happier and prouder," Burk said. "Now we have to push to increase our quality on our strict budget, raise the funding to provide better and more shows and provide more amenities at our theater. More and more is being accomplished on a monthly basis."



Players opened the 2012 season with a gala kickoff on Jan. 6 that included the company's first awards program. Players also announced a pledge drive that will help the company continue to expand and renovate its theater. A series of acting workshops for adults began last month, with additional workshops expected to be announced at a later date.



CAPSULE LOOK: The Batavia Players 2012 season



Here's a capsule look at the season ahead for Batavia Players, a community theater troupe:




  • THE SUMMER OF FOUR FRIENDS: An original play written and directed by Players' President Patrick D. Burk is the story for three long-time friends on vacation in Cape Porpoise, Maine. Tested friendships, loyalties, jealousy and broken hearts all laughingly play out on the oceanside decks of the Golden Cliffs Cottages. Feb. 17 and 18, 7:30 p.m.


  • A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM: The "Shakespeare in Springtime" series celebrates 10 years with a revival of its first production. The loves of two young women and two young men are disrupted by arranged marriages, broken promises and midnight rendezvous', NOT to mention the wonderful group of performing amateur actors and the connections of royalty and magic. March 22-24, 7:30 p.m.; March 25, 2 p.m.


  • CINEMA FESTIVAL NUMERO UNO: A screening and discussion of Rob Marshall's "Nine," starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz and others in the story of a famous film director in crisis trying to balance the women in his life. April 20, 7:30 p.m.


  • COMPANY: Stephen Sondheim's story of Robert, a 35-year-old in crisis whose friends decided to through him a birthday party. The often poignant musical is full of amazing Sondheim songs. May 10-12, 7:30 p.m.; May 13, 2 p.m.


  • ON BROADWAY -- THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM: Players' third revue of Broadway music includes songs from "Mary Poppins," "The Little Mermaid," "Shrek" and "Tarzan." June 21-23, 7:30 p.m.; June 23, 2 p.m.


  • CAMELOT: This season's Summer Youth Theater production features one of Lerner and Lowe's most popular musicals. The timeless tale of Arthur, the boy who became kind after removing an enchanted sword from a stone, features such songs as "If Ever i Would Leave You" and "The Lusty Month of May." The pageantry and magic includes Merlin, invisible castles and the beginning of the Knights of the Round Table. Aug. 16-18, 7:30 p.m.


  • THAT MYSTERIOUS AGATHA CHRISTIE!: The queen of mysteries is celebrated in a night of one-act plays that includes "The Rats," "The Patient" and "Afternoon at Seaside." Each play will be presented by a different director. Sept. 20-22, 7:30 p.m.


  • CINEMA FESTIVAL NUMBER TWO: Two movies from Darren Aronofsky are featured from the beginning of his career. They are "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream." A discussion follows the screenings. Oct. 12 7:30 p.m.


  • CHRISTMAS DREAMS: Another original written and directed by Burk. This show is a collection of vignettes and songs to brighten the holiday season. Dec. 20-22, 7:30 p.m.



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For ticket information, go to www.bataviaplayers.org .