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'Crucible' sequel

Pietrangelo will play lead in Curtain Call’s ‘Abigail/1702’

Thursday, October 17, 2013
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'Crucible' sequel


Elizabeth Pietrangelo is Abigail and John Schmiederer is John Brown in a scene from the Curtain Call Theatre production of "Abigail/1702." (Kevin Gardner)
Elizabeth Pietrangelo is Abigail and John Schmiederer is John Brown in a scene from the Curtain Call Theatre production of "Abigail/1702." (Kevin Gardner)

Curtain Call Theatre founder and artistic director Carol Max went out of her way to bring Elizabeth Pietrangelo into her stable of stars two years ago, and then promptly told her after her first audition, “sorry Beth, not this time.”

“Oh, that’s a funny story,” remembered Pietrangelo, who plays the title character in Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s play “Abigail/1702,” opening Friday night at Curtain Call Theatre. “She saw my picture on my Facebook page and suggested I audition, so I tried out for ‘Places in the Heart’ and didn’t get it. She said, ‘you’re not right for the part, but I still want you to come back and audition for another show.”

Unfazed by the rejection, Pietrangelo did show up at the next audition and got a part in “Opus.” This weekend, when she plays the lead in “Abigail/1702,” a sequel to Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” it will mark her fourth Curtain Call appearance since October of 2012.

“Abigail/1702” tells the story of a young woman named Abigail Williams, the same Abigail from Miller’s 1953 play that was set in New England back in 1692 during the Salem witch trials.

“At the end of ‘The Crucible,’ Abigail runs away and I believe that she was an evil, manipulative and selfish person,” said Pietrangelo. “But in the 10 years since she has had some sort of major moral shift in her life. She’s a more sympathetic character. She has been seeking some redemption.”

Weekend openings

‘Abigail/1702’

WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Road, Latham

WHEN: Opens 8 p.m. Friday and runs through Nov. 18; performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $23

MORE INFO: 877-7529 or www.curtaincalltheatre.com

‘Morning’s at Seven’

WHERE: Schenectady Civic Playhouse, 12 S. Church St., Schenectady

WHEN: Opens 8 p.m. Friday and runs through Oct. 27; performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $17

MORE INFO: 346-6204 or www.civicplayers.org

‘Confetti Fest 9’

WHAT: Confetti Stage’s Short Play Festival

WHERE: Albany Masonic Hall, 67 Corning Place, Albany

WHEN: Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday and runs through Oct. 26; performances at 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Friday, and 2 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $15

MORE INFO: 460-1167 or www.ConfettiStage.org

Pietrangelo is a 2007 graduate of Queensbury High School and a 2011 alumna of Ithaca College, where she majored in theater. She has been performing since she was in elementary school.

“My first play was a production of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ and I played an Oompa Loompa,” she remembered. “That was the fifth grade, and I realized right then that I just had to be on stage the rest of my life. I don’t think it has anything to do with being in the spotlight or being the center of attention. I just like the idea of being somebody else. It’s a very interesting challenge, and I find it very enjoyable.”

Joining Pietrangelo on stage in “Abigail/1702” are John Noble, John Schmiederer, Henry Sinnott and Carrie Weiss. Steve Fletcher is directing the show and was also in charge of the Curtain Call production of “Dracula” in January of 2013, in which Pietrangelo had a leading role.

In the 1980s, Fletcher starred in the daytime drama “One Life to Live,” with Judith Light, a television and Broadway star who recently won a Tony Award for her role in “The Assembled Parties.”

“Beth really does remind me of Judith,” said Fletcher. “Judith has this wonderful ability to be emotionally and intellectually precise. She has the instrument to be all of those things, and Beth has those qualities as well.”

Pietrangelo, who has also performed with Glens Falls Community Theatre, Hubbard Hall, Lake George Dinner Theatre and most recently in “Big Maggie” at Albany Civic, works and lives in the Queensbury area. She does, however, have higher aspirations in theater world.

“Acting is what I want to do with my life, so I do have plans to move to New York City in the near future,” she said. “Not right at the moment, but soon.”

“Abigail/1702” was first produced at the Cincinnati Playhouse in January of this year. Aguirre-Sacasa, best known for his television work on “Glee” and “Big Love,” also wrote scripts for Marvel Comics. He was inspired to write “Abigail/1702” after watching a performance of “The Crucible” at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre in 2007.

“The theme is universal, and that’s the theme of redemption,” said Fletcher. “No matter how bad a dude you are, no matter what wrong you have done, you can work at it, and you can find salvation. Abigail is one of the most dastardly characters in the American mythical lexicon, but she can be redeemed.”

Not so far back

While the Curtain Call production is set more than 300 years ago, the Schenectady Civic Players will also go back in time for their new production, but only about 50 years. “Morning’s at Seven,” Paul Osborne’s portrait of small-town America opens Friday at the Playhouse, with Joe Fava directing an ensemble cast made up of Carol Charniga, Paula Ginder, Rita Russell and Joanne Westervelt.

The four women play sisters who have lived in the same Midwestern town their entire lives.

Also in the cast are Amy Lane, Bill Hickman, Phil Sheehan, Richard Gross and Robert Hegeman.

The play originally opened on Broadway in 1939. A revival in 1980 earned four Tony Award nominations and won three of them, and another revival in 2002 garnered six Tony nominations.

Short works

At Albany’s Masonic Lodge on Corning St., Confetti Stage will be offering up its Short Play Festival, “Confetti Fest 9,” beginning Friday at 7:30 p.m.

There will be eight plays presented, including “Bookmark” by Albany’s Stephen Henel. Henel’s play was recently selected as the first-place winner at the New York Screenplay Festival for best stage play.

It tells the story of a fantasy writer who must collaborate with a ghost writer as he struggles to complete his final novel. The Confetti Stage production will be its world premiere.

The other playwrights whose works will be produced are Sunny da Silva, Matthew Side, Lauren Ogden, Marty Egan, Fred Sahner, Justin Alvis and Valerie Kavanaugh. Among the directors involved are Neilson Jones and Matthew Teichner.

Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or bbuell@dailygazette.com

 
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