Theater’s fleeting nature makes it difficult, but not impossible, to compile a list of 2010’s memorable stage moments across the Lower Hudson Valley.
There are plenty of moments that linger in the mind long after the set has been struck. Here, in no particular order, is a list of memorable moments or performances from 2010.
Hear Kate roar
Moment: Gabra Zackman as Kate in “The Taming of the Shrew” at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.
Some Kates throw pottery, some throw chairs.
In Kurt Rhoads’ swinging, ‘60s-style romp of a “Shrew,” Zackman — a Larchmont native and Mamaroneck High School grad — played the tempestuous Kate as part posturing professional wrestler, part caged animal.
The first thing she does is take off her bra and use it as a whip to keep men at bay. Moments later, she sets it on fire.
But the moment that remains of that wonderful summer on a bluff overlooking the Hudson in Garrison is Zackman’s Kate wielding a chainsaw.
It’s a take-no-prisoners choice that leaves not a shred of doubt: approach this shrew at your own risk.
Wallenberg in action
He is, literally, an answer to a prayer — the song, “Prayer” — in the ambitious musical by Laurence Holzman, Felicia Needleman and Benjamin Rosenbluth.
The message of that particular man-atop-the-boxcar moment echoes the musical’s larger message: the power of one to save many.
The true story of the Swedish diplomat who saved 100,000 Jews was the opening production in an effort to save the White Plains Performing Arts Center.
The venue, in the City Center mall in White Plains, had been limping along until a new team — including Holzman and Needleman and longtime collaborator Annette Jolles — reimagined it as a home for new works. (Bess Weldon’s one-woman show, “The Passion of the Hausfrau,” is next: Feb. 3 through 13.)
Meet Mrs. Pazinski
As the strong mother at the center of a bustling Buffalo household, Markey mined Nyack playwright Dudzick’s loving memory play for everything it was worth, establishing relationships with every member of the family —?and even the stern Sister Clarissa.
A moody husband needs comforting; daughter Annie needs advice about boys; Eddie needs to stop reading Playboy; Rudy needs to connect with his father; and Georgie, a boy with developmental problems, needs to sit farther back from the TV and stop sucking his thumb.
What’s especially charming about Ellen — and Markey’s portrayal — is that she’s still very much working on this mothering thing.
“Well,” she says at one point, “I don’t think I could have handled that any worse.”
Ever line, every look, every gesture felt rang with truth and honesty.
Tumbling for ‘80 Days’
Moment: Hillel Meltzer’s acrobatic turn as Passepartout, Phileas Fogg’s trusty lieutenant, in Mark Brown’s madcap adaptation of “Around the World in 80 Days” also at Penguin Rep.
With an outrageous accent and acrobatic skills to match, Meltzer was a crowd favorite as he crawled, leapt and bounded across the tiny Penguin stage.
(Both Markey and Meltzer were directed by Tom Caruso, a welcome addition to Penguin’s team.)
‘Rent,’ close to home
Moment: The opening of Act 2 of “Rent,” at Westchester Broadway Theater.
“Seasons of Love” — the best-known song from Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical — begins simply with chords on piano.
Soon, the entire company, standing shoulder to shoulder, raise their voices: “525,600 minutes. 525,600 moments so dear. 525,600 minutes. How do you measure, measure a year?”
It’s a powerful moment, one made more powerful by knowing that the musical was conceived by one of Westchester’s own, White Plains native Larson. To see it on stage at the Elmsford dinner theater was to see “Rent” come home, in a way, and to ache a little for what was lost when Larson died hours before the first Off-Broadway dress rehearsal.
A moment of Grace
Moment: Paul Carlin in James McLindon’s funny and fast “Salvation” at Hudson Stage.
Carlin played Jack Grace, a Barcaloungered career crimina facing death and looking to stay out of Hell with an ironclad final confession.
Jack can quote Yeats and Shakespeare but can’t control his crooked tendencies. On the day of his death — Ash Wednesday — he still can’t help but filch money from his son’s wallet.
Jack is an intriguing character, well drawn by McLindon, well executed by Carlin, and well directed by Giovanna Sardelli.
Blessing, all around
Paul Carlin figures into this moment, too. He directed this night, which starred his mother, the actress Frances Sternhagen, his sister, Sarah, and Rye Country Day School 2010 graduate Micole Himelfarb.
The reading aided a fund in the name of retiring Rye Country Day teacher Cary Fuller, who taught Carlin in one of his first classes (41 years ago) and Himelfarb in one of his last (in 2010).
The performance of Blessing’s one-act about grandmothers, mothers and daughters was pitch perfect: Sternhagen was Dorothea, an eccentric free spirit; Sarah Carlin her responsible, itching-to-escape daughter, Artie; and Himelfarb was Artie’s daughter, Echo, a mix of the two.
The triangle made for a whirl of alliances and allegiances, as complicated as any family dynamic, richly real and human.
It was one of those nights of theater where the air is electric and you feel privileged to be able to sit in the dark and be swept away by a story.
The same could be said for all these moments, fleeting though they were.
Here’s hoping 2011 has its share of new moments.
Photos (from top) Photo by William Edward Marsh/Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival: Gabra Zackman as man-hater Kate in Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” directed by Kurt Rhoads.
Photo by Angela Gaul/WPPAC: Raoul Wallenberg (Scott Mikita), stares down Adolf Eichmann (Joe Cassidy) in a pivotal scene in “Wallenberg,” at White Plains Performing Arts Center.
Photo by Zachary Spitzer/Penguin Rep: Kathryn Markey is Ellen and Christopher Cox is Rudy in Penguin Rep’s production of Tom Dudzick’s “Over the Tavern,” the first show in the Stony Point theater company’s 33rd season.
Photo by Zachary Spitzer/Penguin Rep: Hillel Meltzer, left, is Passepartout, and Sam Guncler is Phileas Fogg in Mark Brown’s adaptation of “Around the World in 80 Days” at Penguin Rep.
Photo by John Vecchiolla: The company of Westchester Broadway Theatre’s production of Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” sings the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical’s anthem, “Seasons of Love.”
Photo by Matthew Brown/The Journal News: The cast of a staged reading of “Eleemosynary” at Rye Country Day School was, from left: Sarah Carlin, Frances Sternhagen and Micole Himelfarb. They were directed by Paul Carlin, standing.