Play Five of our 2023 Season
November 9 – November 19
by Lanford Wilson (Regional Premiere)
Directed and Designed by John Sowle
Lighting by Carmen Borgia
Costumes by Michelle Rogers
Stage Managed by Hannarose Manning
Nico Ager, Abby Burris, Timothy Dunn, Seth McNeill, Molly Parker Myers, Steven Patterson, Brian Sheppard, Terry Sidell
Read this feature in The Saratogian by Bob Geopfert
Read this feature in the Berkshire Eagle by Jeffrey Borak
Read this feature in The Mountain Eagle by Michael Ryan
Listen to this preview on WAMC
“As relevant today as it was when written in 1997 … A marvelously literate work about talented, brilliant people who are still learning who they are. As the title indicates, we often learn that we aren’t who we think we are. Indeed, what gives the play its heft is sometimes the characters discover they are capable of being people they don’t want to be … Lanford Wilson was a brilliant playwright and ‘Sympathetic Magic’ is a tribute to his genius. It encourages thought long after the performance is over … A superior production of a compelling play that asks the question, ‘If the universe cannot be predicted, what should we expect from human behavior?’ … Congratulations to Bridge Street Theatre for putting their resources on the line and offering the community an opportunity to experience what could arguably be called one of Wilson’s finer plays.” Bob Goepfert, WAMC more…
A luminous, smartly shaped performance … Playwright Lanford Wilson’s 1997 drama SYMPATHETIC MAGIC takes on nothing less than the Universe — writ large — and our place in it … Engagingly effective.” Jeffrey Borak, Berkshire Eagle
“Bridge Street Theater delivers a powerful and poignant examination on life and the universe. … SYMPATHETIC MAGIC is an intriguing and delightful play that stirs one’s intellect and emotions.” Jessica Hoffman, Berkshire On Stage more…
“Theater that will challenge and complete you … Lanford Wilson’s plays are about a lot of things but character comes first. There are events in this play – a medical procedure, a breakthrough revelation and a shockingly violent outburst – but we are always attuned to the characters and as in the best Wilson plays, the performance lives on the people cast … These seemingly ordinary people have large needs and wants and they act on them in sometimes disturbing, incomprehensible ways. Their actions come out of these outsize desires and just when we are ready to celebrate their success, in the next minute we can be devastated by their frailty … This play lives and sings and deepens our understanding of the human need to create by others and in ourselves. [It] expands and broadens like the galaxies surrounding us as I examine the particulars. “Sympathetic Magic’ is being given an outstandingly sensitive, sympathetic and loving production at Bridge Street. And best of all, it grows in stature the more you think about it.” Patrick White, Nippertown more…
“What director John Sowle has done here is to bring out truths in such a way as to instill those facts with lives of their own, outside the physical limits of the characters who encompass them. As each story plays out the people involved become more real and honest than characters ordinarily would do. Just like the simple portraits in Tennessee Williams’ plays the realized people in this play cannot hide behind the author’s brilliant dialogue. They are forced to reveal themselves without artifice. We find them complete and honest, even in the roughest moments of their lives … It’s basically a perfect cast …. I would make it a point of honor, if you love theater, to see this show. Missing it, because you’ve never heard of it, would be a great mistake. It is not an easy play and you may not get each and every point on a single viewing, but you will get enough of it to understand what Wilson wanted you to know, understand, and appreciate. It is that kind of experience.” – J. Peter Bergman, 2022 Berkshire Bright Focus more…
In early November, a virtually forgotten masterpiece of the American stage comes to unforgettable life on the intimate stage of Catskill’s Bridge Street Theatre. For those familiar with Wilson’s works, you’ll recognize him as perhaps one of the finest playwrights for actors this country has ever produced. With a rich, deep, complex cast of eight, “Sympathetic Magic” contains enough event for an entire season of a daytime soap opera – with none of the suds.
“This is a script that has always fascinated and intrigued me,” says BST Associate Artist Steven Patterson, who’ll also be playing the role of Carl Conklin White in the production. “It seems as though theatre aficionados – and even fans of Lanford Wilson’s other works – have no idea that this play even exists. At my insistence, my partner John Sowle and I ventured into Manhattan a couple years back to see it being presented Off-Broadway on NYC’s Theatre Row. It wound up being what I considered a horribly misconceived production, and John had NO idea what the hell it was we’d seen. When we arrived home, I handed him a copy of the script and asked him, please, to just read it. Two days later, weeping openly, he finished it and said to me, ‘I had no idea. I think we may have to do this.’ Two seasons later, here we are, with a HUGE (for us), perfectly cast ensemble, about to launch into rehearsals.”
One of BST’s mission has always been to resurrect what they feel are neglected plays and put them back onstage where they belong. “Sympathetic Magic” ponders the cosmic implications of everyday actions in the story of a young astrophysicist who makes a potentially world-changing discovery just at the moment his long-time companion, a sculptor on the verge of a brilliant career, finds she is pregnant with his child. And yet, that’s not all that’s going on in the play. The sculptress is the daughter of a world renowned anthropologist, famed for her work both with tribes in Africa and gangs in U.S. inner cities, who is currently going blind. She also has a son, half-brother of the sculptress, who is an Episcopal Rector in the diocese of San Francisco, and has just broken off his relationship with the church’s choir master in order to try to live a celibate life. The cast also includes the astrophysicist’s narcissistic, by-the-book department head, his perpetually lovelorn young co-worker and the anthropologist’s assistant (the type of young woman every straight man seems to find himself falling in love with), who, unexpectedly, find themselves falling head over heels for one another. With its 1990s setting in San Francisco, AIDS also rears its head in both expected and unexpected ways.The intricate web of inter-relationships between these characters is limned in dialogue that crackles like a 1930s screwball comedy, albeit to far more subtle and serious ends.
Director John Sowle was a school valedictorian in Stillwater, OK way back in the day, and continued his studies at the Massacussets Institute of Technology, with the hopes of becoming an astrophysicist himself one day until, he says, “I met one.” A BA in Mathematics at MIT led to an eventual PhD in Theatre at the University of California at Berkeley and to his current life in the Arts. “There’s so much in this play that mirrors events in my life, and given the utterly perfect cast we’ve assembled to embody these characters, I’m finding it impossible to work on preparing for rehearsals without the kind of thrill and excitement I’m rarely able to experience any more. Just imagining this set of actors in these roles makes me choke up.”
Featured in the cast are Brian Sheppard as Ian “Andy” Anderson, Molly Parker Myers as Barbara DeBiers, Seth McNeil as Don Walker, Timothy Dunn as Pauly Scott, Abby Burris as Sue Olmstead, Nico Ager as Mickey Picco, Terry Sidell as Liz Barnard, and Steven Patterson as Carl Conklin White. BST Artistic and Managing Director John Sowle directs and designs the sets, with Carmen Borgia creating sound and lighting, and Michelle Rogers on costumes. Hannrose Manning is the Production Stage Manager and artwork for the production was created by Dina Bursztyn.
One additional item of interest. Terry Sidell (Liz Barnard) and Steven Patterson (Carl Conklin White) will be appearing together onstage in this production for the first time since playing Cecily Cardew and Algernon Moncrieff in the El Modena High School production of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” in Orange County, CA, back in 1967!
Experience one of the most stimulating and little-known plays in the American canon in a production that you’re unlikely to see anywhere else any time soon.
This production of SYMPATHETIC MAGIC is supported by generous grants from FAIRGAME for the Theatre Arts and the Bank of Greene County. The Production Sponsor is Jay Lesenger.
Brian Sheppard (Ian Anderson) Hailing from Churubusco, IN, Brian is a New York City based actor. Regional appearances include Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Palm Beach Dramaworks), Hamlet (Tennessee Shakespeare Company) and Twelfth Night (Plimoth Pautuxet). Television credits include The Walking Dead, FBI, Law & Order: SVU, The Blacklist, Marvel’s The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, To Catch a Killer (I.D.), & BULL (CBS.). Brian holds a B.A. in Theatre from Butler University as well as an M.F.A. in Performance from Northern Illinois University. When not on stage or screen Brian can be found guiding fly-fishing anglers and students throughout the rivers of the Catskills.
Seth McNeill (Don Walker) has appeared in classical and contemporary plays in NYC and regionally, appearing in last year’s Lion in Winter at Bridge Street, Twelfth Night & Love’s Labours Lost at the American Shakespeare Center, as John Proctor in The Crucible with Sink or Swim Rep, and in a bunch of other stuff you can look up later. His experimental solo show Bullet was workshopped this summer in residence with Ancram Opera House. As a playwright, dramaturg, and educator, he has worked with the Valdez Theatre Conference, Middlebury Acting Company, Lanford Wilson Festival, Samuel French OOB Festival, Theatre for a New Audience, Gingold Theatrical Group, Barrington Stage, Fresh Ground Pepper, Dixon Place, Fault Line Theater, Amios NYC, and the Hambidge Center. Semi-Finalist: O’Neill Conference, Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries Prize. Seth’s short play Sad Lonely People will be published in Smith & Kraus’ Best 10-Minute Plays of 2023. Education: Circle in the Square; MA in Theater, Hunter College. www.sethmcneill.com
Timothy Dunn (Pauly Scott) thanks you for supporting live theater and for introducing others in your life to the magic that only live theatrical experiences can offer! Timothy is a NYC-based actor, director, and creative-type, who wholeheartedly believes that kindness, compassion, connection and creativity will save the world, and he is happy to be doing his part in this gorgeous play. Though his theatrical career began with his star turn as the titular role in his Kindergarten class play, The Littlest Angel, Timothy’s professional acting career began in his teenage years at the St. Louis Municipal Opera House (MUNY), before he earned a Bachelor of Sciences in Theatre from Northwestern University, his stripes in the Chicago musical theater scene, and enough money to move to New York City, where his creative career has continued to develop and grow, bringing him around the world, from the NYC stages of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, where he was a performer and director for over a decade, to roles on big, small and tiny screens, and, just this past summer, as The Emcee in Cabaret up on the mountaintop in Hunter, NY, where he also hangs his hat, alongside his fiancé, Gary, and their hilarious little dog, Tiny Taco Party. www.timothydunncreative.com
Molly Parker Myers (Barbara De Biers) is an actor, singer, voice artist, educator and a frequent collaborator with Bridge Street Theatre. Molly’s work with BST includes Huldey in The Moors, Annie in The Shaggs, Ellen in There is a Happiness That Morning Is, and Geneva in Redwood Curtain, among many others. Recent regional roles include Logan in The Thanksgiving Play (WAM Theatre), Bananas in House of Blue Leaves, Emilie in Emilie: La Marquise de Chatalet Defends her Life Tonight (Wellesley Rep), Bella in Lost in Yonkers, Sally in Talley’s Folly, Sarah in The Norman Conquests Trilogy and Amanda in Private Lives (Winnipesaukee Playhouse), Papermaker, The Ladies Man (Shadowland Stages), The Immigrant (Chenango River Theatre).
Abby Burris (Sue Olmstead) is thrilled to be returning to Bridge Street Theatre after appearing in last year’s production of the US premier of Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes. Now based in NYC, Abby was born and raised in Greensboro, NC, and graduated from the BFA acting program at Purchase College. Regional Credits include: Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Penguin Rep Theatre, and Hamlet and The Tempest at Shakespeare In The Woods. Select Purchase Repertory Theater credits: Sweat, Life Is A Dream, Henry IV, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.
Nico Ager (Mickey) is absolutely spinning plates to be making his Bridge Street Theater debut. He holds a BFA in acting from the University of Michigan and has performed across the Midwest as well as in New York City. Theater productions include Dog Sees God (Magenta Giraffe, Detroit, Michigan), Cloud Tectonics (New Theater Project, Ann Arbor, Michigan), Mercury Fur (Who Wants Cake, Ferndale, Michigan), Holy Musical B@Man! & A Very Potter Senior Year (Starkid Productions, Chicago, Illinois/YouTube), Skriker (Red Tape Theater, Chicago, Illinois), Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Stage 773, Chicago, Illinois), Pitchfork Disney (Interrobang Theater Company, Chicago, Illinois), World’s Fastest Hamlet (Hedgepig Theater Ensemble, New York City), Shakespeare Unrehearsed (Barefoot Shakespeare, New York City), and In the Hat (7×7, New York City). Film credits include Worthy (Traverse City Film Festival), the Good Clean F*** web series (YouTube), and Bronx: Street Justice (ID Discovery). Many thanks to Steven and John for welcoming him on board, and to his wife, Anna, for being his universe.
Terry Sidell (Liz Barnard) has worked throughout the Mid-west and South, including Alabama Shakes in Anniston, St Louis Repertory & Abbeville Players, Louisiana as well as the New York Theatre Ensemble and Drama Workshop. Favorite roles and shows include Masha in Three Sisters, Yerma, Mrs. Prentice in What the Butler Saw, Lysistrata, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Othello & The Glass Menagerie. Delighted to be working with Steve Patterson again many years after The Importance of Being Earnest in 1967.
Steven Patterson (Carl Conklin White) has performed in NYC both Off- and Off-Off-Broadway, as well as with theaters such as South Coast Repertory, Capital Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks/Silicon Valley, freeFall Theatre, Kaliyuga Arts, Lexington Conservatory Theatre, Chenango River Theatre, Centenary Stage Company, and the Orlando, Oregon, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Utah, Tennessee, Richmond, and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festivals. A few of his favorite roles have been Austin Wiggin in The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World, Jake Sturdy in Kill Me Now, Lear in King Lear, David in Poor Super Man, Judi Boswell in How to Pray, Zach in A Chorus Line, and Rob in King of the Crystal Palace. He also created, performed, and toured internationally for four years with Beauty, a one-man play inspired by the life and works of Jean Genet. He currently resides in Catskill, NY, where he is the co-founder (with John Sowle) of Bridge Street Theatre, where he has appeared in The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Killing & The Love Death, Grinder’s Stand, Lucky Lindy, Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus, Holiday Memories, How to Pray, Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune, The Revenge of the Space Pandas, Shylock, There Is A Happiness That Morning Is, Miss Gulch Returns! (2021 “Berkie” Award for Best Solo Performance), Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Shelley’s Shadow, The Lion in Winter, and Rude Mechanics, and has directed The Tavern, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, and The Revenge of the Space Pandas, and The Glass Menagerie.