George Filieau has been working very hard at his second job lately, but he’s loving every minute of it.
“Acting is a tremendous amount of work if you do it right, and I love every part of the process,” said Filieau, a Troy native and North Greenbush resident who is starring in Agatha Christie’s “Verdict,” opening Friday at Proctors’ Fenimore Gallery. “We’ve been rehearsing four nights a week, and that doesn’t include the time you spend learning and memorizing your lines. It’s a lot of work, but I love all of it.”
“Verdict” is being produced by the Classic Theater Guild and directed by John Nickles. It will run this weekend and next Thursday through Sunday, closing on Nov. 4.
Also opening this weekend, at the Emmanuel Friedens Church on Nott Terrace in Schenectady, is “I Remember Mama,” produced by Our Own Productions and directed by John Birchler, and taking the stage Friday night at the Schact Fine Arts Center in Troy is “Assassins,” produced by Class Act Productions and directed by Michael Ciaravello.
‘Verdict,’ by Classic Theater Guild
WHERE: Fenimore Gallery at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday and runs through Nov. 4; performance times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $17.50-$14.50
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
“Verdict,” Christie’s 1958 play in which the audience actually knows who the murderer is, kicks off the 2012-2013 season for the Classic Theater Guild. Not the typical Christie play, “Verdict” is more melodrama than murder-mystery, and is one of the few of her plays that was actually written for the stage and not adapted from a novel.
“This play is not a whodunit, but is much more of an ‘OK, you saw the murder, let’s see what happens now,’ ” said Filieau. “Until I read this script, I don’t think I would have considered myself a huge Agatha Christie fan. But I actually think it’s the best play I’ve read, the most intriguing, and that includes a lot of plays, even Shakespeare. I find the story very interesting and my character very interesting.”
Filieau plays Karl Hendryk, a college professor whose life is dominated by his interactions with three women. They are his ailing wife, Anya, played by Jane Neilsen, her cousin, Lisa, played by Peggi Perrone, and a student named Helen, played by Lindsay Astarita.
“Karl is the kind of person who is kind, deferential and moral to a fault,” said Filieau. “The core of the play is his character, and what results from him having it. He forgives everyone else’s faults, and he brushes away the theft of a valuable book. He’s a college professor and books are essential to his life, and even when a student confesses, Karl doesn’t react the way most of us would. The one quote from the play that sums up Karl is, ‘is it wrong to feel pity? Can mercy be wrong?’ That last sentence is essential to the whole play, and the answer is fascinating.”
Filieau, an employee of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, has only been acting for about two years. A graduate of Columbia High School and the University at Albany, he dabbled in the Columbia High Drama Club, but then did very little performing for 40 years.
“I’ve always felt comfortable in front of people, doing presentations at work, so I thought about getting back into it for a long time,” said Filieau, 61.
“Then, in March of 2010, I saw an audition notice for “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” by the Circle Theatre Players in Averill Park. I said to myself, ‘you love Sherlock Holmes. If you don’t audition for this one, you’re never going to do it.’ So I went and auditioned, I got cast as Dr. Watson and it was amazing.”
Since his return to the theater, Filieau said he has worked with close to 20 productions.
“That role and that first play just launched me,” he said. “I was the perfect fit for Dr. Watson, and maybe too old and bit paunchy for Holmes. But I’ve been in seventh heaven ever since, and at one point I was involved in five different productions at the same time. The candle is being burned at both ends quite severely because I’m still working and I still enjoy my job, but I love acting. Fortunately, acting in community theater involves a lot of weeknights and weekends, and that I can do.”
‘I Remember Mama,’ by Our Own Productions
WHERE: Emmanuel Friedens Church, 218 Nott Terrace, Schenectady
WHEN: Opens 7:30 Friday and runs through Nov. 4; performance times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $15
MORE INFO: 356-2306, www.ourownproductions.com
An Oscar nominee
“I Remember Mama,” a John van Gruten play based on Kathryn Forbes’ book “Mama’s Bank Account,” is set in San Francisco in 1910. Cohoes resident Lori Porter, who has performed at Albany Civic, the Colonial Little Theatre in Johnstown and The Village Stage in Brunswick, will play Mama.
“I wasn’t that familiar with the play, but I watched the movie with Irene Dunne and I really fell in love with it,” said Porter, referring to the 1948 Hollywood film which earned Dunne an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
“It’s a nice, warm story and a great character to play in Mama. It’s very moving, and that was a bit of a challenge for me because I’ve been doing a lot of comedies lately. But it’s a nice challenge, and I’m having a lot of fun.”
Joining Porter on stage is Anna Starr as her daughter, Katrin, the narrator, and Patrick White, who plays Lars, the father.
“It’s a warm story, and it’s also a nice opportunity to get a lot of people involved,” said Birchler. “When I was directing at Guilderland [High School] we put it on because it had a lot of roles. There’s a certain sense of nostalgia to it. It’s about looking back at a simpler time, and how Mama managed to solve a number of problems over the course of years.”
‘Assassins,’ by Class Act Productions
WHERE: Schact Fine Arts Center, Russell Sage, Troy
WHEN: Opens 8 p.m. Friday and runs through Nov. 4; performance times are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $18
MORE INFO: 248-2618, www.classactproductionsny.com
“Assassins,” Stephen Sondheim’s 1990 musical about nine men and women who tried, either successfully or unsuccessfully, to kill a U.S. president, originally opened off-Broadway to mixed reviews. When he revived it in 2004, the show was nominated for six Tonys and won five of them, including Best Revival of a Musical.
Eric Shovah plays John Wilkes Booth, while also in the cast are Elizabeth Sterling as the Proprietor and Stephen Foust as the Balladeer.