'Torch Bearers' to ingite theatre season

cast imageThe SUNY Oswego theatre department has started rehearsals for “The Torch Bearers,” an American farce first produced on Broadway in 1922 that will open the college’s theatre season.

Written by George Kelly, the play offers a look at a hapless community theatre troupe led by eccentric and pompous directress Mrs. Pampinelli, played by Sara Weiler.

Paula Ritter (Kim Greenawalt) takes a role in the one-act play that the group will present for a charity performance. Her husband Fred (Jeremy Waterman) is appalled at the incompetence of the amateur actors including Mr. Hossefrosse (Daniel Williams), who forgets his lines; Mr. Twiller (Knate Roy) whose mustache takes on a life of its own; and Florence McCrickett (Jessica Quindlen) who longs to emote in her role as the wronged wife of a doctor. 

Students portraying the play-within-a-play’s clueless cast and crew also include Mr. Spindler (Ryan Santiago), an assistant who cannot keep track of his sound cues; the thrice-widowed Mrs. Fell (Kim Saunders), an easily distracted prompter; and Teddy Spearing (Jacob Luria), who is prone to fainting spells.

The cast also includes Katherine Boswell as Mrs. Ritter’s maid; Natifa Adolphus as Mrs. Clara Sheppard, who Mrs. Ritter replaced in the production; and Josh Gadek, the stage manager who barely tolerates Mrs. Pampinelli and her mission to carry the “torch of essential culture” to the community.

During the second act, the audience views backstage during the performance, where “mishaps escalate, with missed cues, hysterical outbursts, disappearing props and falling scenery,” said director Mark Cole, professor and chair of theatre at SUNY Oswego.

“The play celebrates the thrill of making theatre and, at the same time, skewers the misguided, deluded attempts of the amateur who tries to make it all work,” Cole said. “This is a case of a group’s aspirations far exceeding their talent. George Kelly has created characters who are desperate to succeed and don’t know when to stop. The comic complications accumulate to a dizzying degree.”

Scene and lighting design is by Tim Baumgartner, costume design by Kitty Macey and sound design by Steve Shull, all of the theatre department faculty. The stage manager for the production is senior theatre major Alaina Parness.

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 for adults ($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.

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PHOTO CAPTION—‘Torch’ preparers—“The Torch Bearers,” a 1920s American farce about a decidedly amateur theatre company, will kick off the SUNY Oswego theatre season. In rehearsal, from left, are the befuddled production assistant Mr. Spindler (Ryan Santiago), the overbearing and pompous directress Mrs. Pampinelli (Sara Weiler) and the easily distracted prompter Mrs. Fell (Kimberly Saunders). The production will run Oct. 15 to 19 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

(Posted: Sep 17, 2008)

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