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All the Cape’s a Stage As Theater Project Explores New Works

July 25, 2008

By IRIS FANGER

JOYS OF SUMMER

By day, Falmouth Academy rings with the voices of children at camp, but at night, the actors of the Cape Cod Theatre Project take over, at least for the next few weeks.

Each summer for the past 13 seasons, an ever-changing troupe of young actors has camped out in Falmouth to present adventuresome, book-in-hand productions of plays that routinely go on to the stages of regional theaters across the country.

Falmouth-area audiences do not seem to mind the lack of costumes and scenery. This gang of Equity professionals (the actors’ union) comes equipped with a spirit of discovery and a joie de vivre that brings back memories of summer theater times when New York stage folk exchanged the lights of Broadway for the beaches and mountains of New England.

And the neighbors have welcomed the theater with support in kind, especially in offers of spare rooms to lodge the actors.

The mission of Cape Cod Theatre Project is the discovery and development of new works. Under the artistic direction of Andrew Polk, a Tufts University drama department graduate and working actor himself, the theater project has a stellar record of success after its Falmouth summer premieres.

Polk casts from among his peers – the actors appearing on and off Broadway. From the looks of the current crop, there are future stars among them. And for viewers who have embraced the theater project, the excitement of talent scouting is one part of the pleasure.

A case in point is the cast of last weekend’s “Reality!” – a musical spoof of reality TV by Itamar Moses, with a score by Gaby Alter.

Nine fetching singer-actors, described by Polk in his pre- curtain speech as “incredibly talented and irritatingly young,” take their places behind a row of music stands. They carry their scripts for reference but have absorbed the characters so well that the rough format is no obstacle to believing this story about their lives.

While the theater project seldom produces musicals, this one seems right for such a casual production. An ensemble of two – musical director Neil Greenberg on the piano and Gary Spellissey on the drums – rips out the melodic score.

“Reality!” is in draft format, which means the playwright and composer are revising mightily, probably through several more workshops before offering the show for full production. Polk often chooses plays at this stage of their development, and enlists Falmouth audiences in post-show discussions with the creators to critique the material.

“Reality!” focuses on the commercialization of ordinary lives and how fame alters each participant.The message is funny and sad at the same time, a promising start.

The Cape Cod Theatre Project runs each show for only one weekend. A new cast arrives each Monday to rehearse the next offering.

“Last Gas,” commissioned by the theater project from playwright John Cariani (“Almost, Maine”) will be performed Thursday through Saturday.

“Nocturama,” by Annie Baker, directed by Hal Brooks, will run July 31-Aug. 1-2.

The Cape Cod Theatre Project has become a summer staple for audiences in Falmouth. The program has expanded to include an intern company, coordinated by Paul Conroy, drama club adviser and performing arts teacher at Quincy High School. The interns give a show of their own July 29.

Meanwhile, farther out on Cape Cod is the venerable Cape Playhouse in Dennis, where the recent Broadway musical “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” runs through Aug. 2.

The Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater is running productions on two stages, the new Julie Harris Stage in the company’s digs on Route 6, just behind the post office, and at the beloved, if scruffy, Harbor Stage, where new plays are being performed.

A scary play by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh runs at the new theater through Aug. 9, alternating with the French period play “Triumph of Love.”"Short Stack” continues at the Harbor Stage through Sunday.

One of the more novel Cape theater experiences takes place at the Payomet Performing Arts Center, under a tent off Route 6 in Truro. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings, the new troupe Shakespeare on the Cape presents “The Tempest,” with a one-hour version of the production for children at 5 p.m.

“Gloves Off! Nabokov vs. Wilson” by Kevin Rice will play July 28 to Aug. 26. And if you make it out to Provincetown, and can pull yourself out of the restaurants before 8 p.m., you can catch the musical “The Wild Party,” at the Provincetown Theatre.

Originally published by By IRIS FANGER, For The Patriot Ledger.

(c) 2008 Patriot Ledger, The; Quincy, Mass.. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.