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The Time of the Cuckoo Opens at Schoolhouse Theater

CROTON FALLS, N.Y. - If you saw Arthur Laurents’ The Time of the Cuckoo in one of its incarnations -- as Summertime with Katharine Hepburn, or Do I Hear a Waltz? (music and lyrics by Rogers and Sondheim), then you may want to treat yourself to the Schoolhouse Theater’s production of the original 1952 play. If you have never seen it in any form, then here is your chance to fill that void.

After reading Laurents’s autobiography and studying his not always flattering comments on the various interpretations, Artistic Director Pamela Moller Kareman decided to make the Schoolhouse production as close as possible to the author’s original vision. 

Around 1950 Laurents went to Venice with a young lover, who then went out ‘cruising.’ In theory they had an open relationship, but Laurents nevertheless felt lonely and abandoned. “I think he based the play on his own experiences. [The character] Leona Samish might have been Laurents himself.”

Kareman took a trip to Venice to prepare for this production and returned with lots of photos to provide the set and lighting designers with authentic references. “The set recreates more than the buildings,” she said. “It captures the sun and the summer heat and the colors, and of course, the water, water everywhere.”

Cuckoo’s Italian choreographer, Nicola Iervasi, stretched his direction beyond body movements and hand gestures to coach the actors in dialect as well. “It’s been a lot of fun,” Kareman said.

The play is a comedy with bittersweet undertones. One of its themes is the culture clash between the native Italians, who live for the moment, and the visiting Americans in search of an etherial dream. “It’s really about the tremendous innate desire we all have to ‘connect,’” said Kareman.

The leading role of spinster Leona Samish will be played by Tessa Zugmeyer, who knit a lot of gloves in Dancing at Lughnasa. Billy Lyons, Lughnasa’s charming but irresponsible Gerry, will play Eddie Yaeger, the young American painter. Others in the cast include Schoolhouse veterans Kevin Albert and Carmin Lamar.

The very popular Talk-Back series will follow the Sunday matinee performances on November 13, 20 and 27. The first post-curtain call guest will be Cuckoo’s choreographer and dialect coach, Nicola Iervasi. On November 20 the guest will be the Bedford Record-Review’s theater critic, Michael Millius. The final guest will be Italian playwright and theater critic Mario Fratti.

To round out the experience, the Schoolhouse Art Gallery will exhibit paintings of Venice by local artists Barbara Dunn and Tova Snyder. The Time of the Cuckoo premieres on Thursday, November 10, with additional evening performances on November 11, 17, 18, 19, 25 and 26, December 1, 2 and 3. All evening performances start at 8 p.m. Sunday matinee performances, at 3 p.m., are scheduled for November 13, 20 and 27, and December 4.

Tickets are $30 - $32 and are available at the theater or online.

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