'Torch Bearers' theatre spoof to open season

cast imageTheatregoers should expect a sprightly spoof of amateur theatre when the SUNY Oswego theatre department starts its 2008-09 season with “The Torch Bearers,” opening Oct. 15 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

“The original Broadway production ran for a healthy 135 performances,” said director Mark Cole, professor and chair of theatre at SUNY Oswego. It last appeared in New York off-Broadway in 2000.

“Its appeal lies in the characters: a collection of bungling, self-indulgent amateur actors with wickedly short attention spans who rehearse a one-act play, alternately described as a tragedy and a high comedy,” Cole said.

“Anyone who has enjoyed the comic energy of Nick Bottom and his fellow actors in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ or the lunacy of Michael Frayn’s ‘Noises Off,’ a farce about a group of actors who are putting on a farce, or the monstrously dedicated and misguided amateurs of a film like ‘Waiting for Guffman’ will appreciate the world of ‘The Torch Bearers,’” he added.

The student cast inhabits the zany characters such as Mrs. Pampinelli, the leader of the amateur theatre group, a woman of extremely limited insight and expansive artistic aspirations. She convinces herself and her cast that they possess genuine dramatic instinct and that some are destined for the professional New York theatre.

Mrs. Pampinelli’s newest protege is the enthusiastic Paula Ritter, whose husband resents her involvement in the group and questions where a wife’s true responsibility lies. Mr. Ritter’s worst fears about the indulgence and inane posturing of amateur acting are borne out when he watches the rehearsal of the group’s one-act play.

“In act one, the rehearsal is sabotaged by gossip, loose attitudes, frivolity, overacting and the director as overbearing artiste,” Cole said. “In act two, our point of view is backstage as the amateurs trip, fall, misplace props, disappear, forget lines, collapse into hysterics and faint. The show goes on and is pronounced ‘wonderful’ by Mrs. Pampinelli.”

Attention to detail is part of the theatre department’s emphasis in this production about a troupe with no attention to detail. “The backstage setting, designed by theatre department faculty member Tim Baumgartner, takes on a life of its own as characters wrestle with the scenery and props in a desperate attempt to follow directions and get it right,” Cole said. “The costumes, designed by Professor Kitty Macey, evoke the elegant and frivolous era of the early 1920s.”

A preview performance of “The Torch Bearers” will take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14, with all seats priced at $5. 

Additional evening performances will start at 8 p.m. Oct. 15 to 18, with a Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 19. Tickets are $12 ($10 for seniors and high school students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students). The performance is suggested for audiences 12 years of age and up.

For reservations or additional information, call the Tyler box office at 312-2141 or e-mail tickets@oswego.edu.

For evening and weekend events at SUNY Oswego, visitors may park in any campus lot free of charge.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Cast of characters—Mrs. Pampinelli (Sara Weiler, center) is the pompous matriarch of a hapless amateur theatre troupe that includes the forgetful Mr. Hossefrosse (Daniel Williams, left) and the overemotive Florence McCrickett (Jessica Quindlen) in “The Torch Bearers” at SUNY Oswego. The farce will open the college’s theatre season, running Oct. 15 to 19 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

(Posted: Sep 24, 2008)

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