Batavia Players to swap gender roles for fundraising concert

Oct 19, 2017

BATAVIA — At 14, Kathryn Fitzpatrick is a veteran of local, community theatre. She’s enjoyed diving into a role, delivering lines as they’re written for her character, and meeting the demands of the musical score. On Saturday, Fitzpatrick takes the stage at Harvester 56, along with 9 other cast members, for a fundraising concert where she gets to do something most actors only dream of: choose their own musical numbers.

The latest offering from the Batavia Players is called “Broads, Boys, and Broadway Backwards,” and it’s all about turning what we think we know about The Great White Way on its ear. Based on the annual event in New York City — now in it’s 12th year raising money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids — the local event features men and women reversing roles and bending genders.

“It’s the idea that you see ladies sing male songs and vice versa,” says cast member Wendy Williams. ”We’ve all had the chance to play leading ladies, but how often do you get to play a leading man?” But this is not a drag show. “We’ve been told to dress slightly cheeky and slightly off-color,” she added.

Director Pat Burk put the call out a few months ago, asking interested actors to “choose a song that they’ve always dreamed of doing,” for the event, according to musical director Kathy White. And if that song was originally written for a member of the opposite sex then all the better.

A male chorus (Anthony Baldwin-Giambrone, Cameron Bontrager, Colin Fleming-Stumpf, Jerrod Baldwin-Giambrone, and Joe Kusmierczak) belts out “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” from Annie while the female chorus, which along with Fitzpatrick and Williams includes Amanda Melissa Ellman-Taylor and Erin Stamp, counters with “There is Nothing Like a Dame,” from South Pacific.

The audience can expect “a lot of laughs along with some very sweet songs and serious themes.” says Williams. “It’s fun ... it’s, ‘Let’s enjoy the humor of a bearded man singing from Annie.’”

Not every song is a total reversal. In what may be a bit of wishful thinking, Fitzpatrick will sing “I am 16 Going on 17” made famous by Charmian Carr (Liesl) from “The Sound of Music.”

This experience has allowed the actors to grow within their roles and, according to Stamp — who’ll sing “Where Do I Go” from “Hair” — may enable her to access a depth of character in her next role. “Now that I’ve played this role as a man, maybe next time I’m playing opposite a man I’ll have more empathy.”

White says that fundraising for a small, community theatre “never stops,” but points to the successes of recent productions like their annual Shakespeare play and “The Laramie Project” as proof that their hard work is paying off.

“Attendance is growing,” she says. “We educate, we enlighten, and people walk away changed.”

“Broads, Boys, and Broadway Backwards” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Harvester 56 Theatre, 56 Harvester Ave. Tickets for the one-act play are $15 and are available at the box office or online at DailyNewsTickets.com.

By Patricia Hawley, The Daily News