"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts." -- William Shakespeare
I feel very blessed to have been born and raised in New York, surrounded by great art and culture, with incredible opportunities in local theater. I've seen and been inspired by amazing companies that have brought some brilliant productions to the stage. Here are a few.
Prospect Theater Company -- Their recent show, Illyria, a musical version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, was a pleasure to behold. They will be celebrating their tenth anniversary with a fundraiser on June 29, 2009, so support them as they continue their mission to bring quality theater to Manhattan.
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival -- If you're craving to see wonderful performances of the Immortal Bard's classics in a beautiful setting, you can't go wrong with the outdoor performances at the historic Boscobel estate in Harrison, New York. Last summer's Twelfth Night was a lot of fun (and it was even broadcast on PBS), and their new season looks equally impressive.
The Pearl Theatre Company -- This group is classical theater at its finest. My wife and I especially loved their recent version of The Importance of Being Earnest, and we're looking forward to what else they'll be producing in the future.
Center Stage Playhouse -- Quality, affordable theater in the Bronx? Absolutely. Manhattan doesn't have a monopoly on good off-off-Broadway plays and musicals with amazing production values. I served on the Board of Directors for two years, and I can honestly say that this company provides some of the finest staged entertainment you will see anywhere.
The Theater Project -- This professional theater company in Union County College is a gem and worth the trip to New Jersey (and I'm not just saying that because my mother-in-law was a founding member). They bring thought-provoking revivals, writing workshops, children's productions, new plays, and more.
Red Monkey Theater Group -- From Westchester to Manhattan during the past decade, this little company has dazzled audiences with productions ranging from daring interpretations of the works of William Shakespeare to modern classics like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and an original adaptation of The Brothers Karamazov.
There are so many other theater groups in the area, an abundance of riches that has really spoiled me. Some other favorites include Runaway Theater Company which recently produced an excellent version of Safe, Hesterhouse Productions with their impressive productions of The Seagull and Closer, the City Island Theater Group located on the tiny Bronx island that feels like a New England town, Fordham University's over-a-century-old Mimes and Mummers, and Darknight Productions which continues to bring original plays to audiences in intimate Manhattan venues, showcasing the talents of many local actors, directors, and writers. There are so many more, these are just the tip of the iceberg.
If you're in the New York area and looking for great theater, sure, Broadway has a lot of blockbusters, but there are plenty of jewels sprinkled throughout the region to keep you satisfied too.