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Batavia Players

August 12, 2022 - 8:08am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, entertainment, Batavia Players, batavia, notify.

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In its 25th year, Batavia Players’ Summer Youth Theater program returns from a pandemic year off with something spectacular to behold, Director Pat Burk says.

He chose the musical “Godspell” to give prominent and ample opportunity for the 15 youth actors to fully embrace their characters and bring the Gospel of Matthew to life in an atypically festive and colorful atmosphere.

“It’s about parables and things, and also excerpts from the Gospel according to Matthew. But you know, the whole premise of the show is just a very beautiful premise, and the show itself is physically gorgeous. I think people will be surprised at our setting this year … during Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” Burk said during an interview with The Batavian. “And that's another nice thing about the show, you can kind of put it into the setting you want it to be in. Originally it was in a junkyard in New York City. It was a bunch of homeless, kind of hippie vagrants, in the junkyard in New York City. We've changed that, and ours is very New Orleans, Mardi Gras-themed. and it is a very beautiful show. So I think people will enjoy it.”

The musical is a retelling of the Gospel of Matthew set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. The disciples of Jesus spread his message of love and tolerance through the city streets as the time gets closer to Jesus's betrayal at the hands of Judas and his eventual crucifixion. Parables are interspersed with music set primarily to lyrics from traditional hymns, with the passion of Christ appearing briefly near the end of the show.

With its debut on Thursday, Summer Youth Theater’s production continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday at Batavia First Presbyterian Church, 300 East Main St., Batavia.

"Godspell" began as a project by drama students at Carnegie Mellon University and evolved from off-off-Broadway to being rescored for an off-Broadway production, which became a long-running success.

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Don’t let the actors’ ages, from 12 to 21, fool you; most are fairly well versed in theater and in working with Batavia Players, Burk said. There have been challenges, though, with the venue — First Presbyterian Church in Batavia. The widespread choreography and sets were too much for the Players’ makeshift stage while the new one is under construction, he said.

The troupe was invited to perform at the East Main Street church and accepted, meaning a complete transplanting of sets, the light and sound boards, costumes, props and stage setup, he said. They had to rent sound equipment, move and reset lights, and faced more challenges with designing a set for this particular show, he said, “which we want to really highlight the design and the costumes and the coloring, the colors involved in the show and how we're setting the show.”

“We had to bring in a bunch of really expert people to make that happen,” Burk said. “And I think people will be amazed. It's pretty expansive, and it's pretty impressive, actually.”

There also wasn’t room for the pit band that accompanies vocalists, he said. Their current, temporary digs consist of a small stage area inside Batavia City Centre until the theater construction is finished.

“Because the only shows that we do in there … we can have drums and guitars and bass and two pianos, and there's no room for that in our temporary space,” he said. “So the shows that we've done in there, if there is music, have either band recorded music that you purchase, and/or an individual piano. So, this show really requires a fuller pit, plus the choreography and dance numbers are, in our version, are fairly extensive, and they would not have worked in that space.”

That being said, the church performance space has worked out nicely for a breathtaking production that, contrary to what some people may think of biblical prose, is anything but boring, he said.

“It's absolutely gorgeous. And the music is amazing. Absolutely amazing, and it allows a lot of individual moments to shine within the show,” he said. “It's kind of an ensemble cast, which, there's obviously, one big important role. And then there's a bunch of ensemble roles, but they all have lines, they all have solos, they all have songs. It's also a good one to highlight the kids that are in it.”

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"Godspell" takes Burk back — nearly 50 years — to when he was first cast in it at 16. He found it then — as he still does today — to be a “beautiful, beguiling, and bold” over-the-top celebration that was an immediate success amidst a swirl of controversy, he said.

“It certainly was not a traditional telling of biblical parables. What many did not realize at the time was that this musical was not about the life and times of Jesus, it was about how Jesus created this loving and caring

community from a wide array of people,” he said. “Instead of being the universal story of the life of Jesus, it used Jesus as a vessel for the story of how a community is created and how it can include all.”

Ticket information is available at showtix4u.com

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Batavia Players' Summer Youth Theater cast readies for a debut of "Godspell" Thursday evening; Elise Baumer, Crystalina Baumer, Melania DeSa e Frias, Maia Zerillo and Jocelyn Coburn; front row featured actors Deacon Smith, Kai Hoag and Gabriel Burk Flanagan; Matthew Stevens as the lead of Jesus, with Samantha Jane Balbi, who is also the show choreographer; Matthew Stevens and Dorothy Sue Flanagan, the youngest member of the cast. Photos by Howard Owens.

 

 

 

August 5, 2022 - 3:00pm


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for more information or to purchase tickets!

June 1, 2022 - 4:18pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Players, batavia, news.

Press release from Batavia Players:

Our community suffered a tremendous loss this past Sunday as Wendy Williams, local business owner, teacher and humanitarian took her last breaths at Crossroads House comfort care home in Batavia.

Wendy was a 1985 graduate of Hilton Central School and continued her education to earn her Bachelor's degree from Oberlin College Conservatory.

A well-known actor and performer, Wendy shared her many talents on stage in venues throughout Eastern Ohio and Upstate New York. She was a long-serving member of our own Batavia Players/Main St. 56 Theater, performing regularly for over a decade in various plays and musicals including Into the Woods, Mary Stuart, Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Lile Women, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Cabaret, Mamma Mia, August, Osage County and countless more.

In addition to her various acting credits, she served as a member of the Board of Directors and was the Director of the Education at the theater, spearheading programs such Liberty Camp, which focused on keeping young people at risk interested in their education, TOAST Pre-K to first-grade introduction to the theater and the Summer Theater Camp.

Wendy also tirelessly fundraised for the theater and was a major deciding component of the new downtown Main St. 56 Theater Project.

Her illness did not stop these efforts and she continued to do everything she could to ensure that this project would come to fruition.

Wendy was also a solid supporter of the Main St. 56 Dance Company, where her daughter Avelyn was a student.

Williams was a patron of the musical arts in every possible way. Many may remember Wendy from her annual Christmas Caroling events. She funded theater classes and vocal competition fees for friends, acquaintances, and students to ensure that all could receive equal access to these programs.

As a former band director at St. Joseph’s Regional School, a school that had previously been without a band program, she campaigned, collected, and purchased instruments to distribute to her students who would have otherwise been unable to participate.

Wendy’s true genius as a facilitator of musical expression came from her teaching.

As a licensed Kindermusik educator for more than 20 years, Williams was passionate about the formative role of musical play in child development. With a degree in both Music Therapy and Vocal Performance, she was well equipped to provide instruction in both the technical aspects of music as well as the psychosocial role it plays as a tool for self-expression and therapeutic relief. The students of Sound Foundations, her rapidly growing voice studio, ranged from pre-k to adulthood.

An adjudicator for the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Wendy was adept at bringing out the very best in each of her students and many took part in companions at the national and international level, performing in Chicago, Washington DC, and Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Despite these many contributions, Wendy may be most well known for her human kindness. There was never a soul in need that Wendy Williams did not rally to. Every year, new and like-new winter coats would be purchased and collected by Williams and her mother Barbara Kerns to be distributed to those in need. Groceries were purchased for the ill, disadvantaged, or grieving.

On so many occasions, Wendy would fill her home with food, clothing, or toys to provide for individuals who had suffered a house fire, unemployment, or simply the challenges of life.

Wendy loved to bake and was involved in quite a few baking exchanges in the community.

The Williams house was always open to any looking for a roof over their head or a home-cooked meal.

A strong advocate for LGBTQ rights, Wendy was a mother to all and welcomed many estranged young adults into her inclusive family. When the idea of a PRIDE celebration came up in Batavia and Genesee County, Wendy made sure that it was promoted and worked to ensure that our local theater and Dance Academy were a part of the PRIDE events. She was truly an icon of love and compassion, and she will be sorely missed.

Wendy is survived by her mother, Barbara (Williams) Kerns, husband, Sean Williams; children, Collin Jones, Brannon (Emily) Jones, Charlie (Sara) Williams, Owen Jones, John Williams, and Avelynn Williams; a sister, Shayna (Bre) Klassen and her sister of the heart, Sara Brunner. Family and friends may call on Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the H.E. Turner & Co. Funeral Home, 403 East Main Street in Batavia. There will be no funeral service and Wendy will be laid to rest in Hillside Cemetery in Holley. 

April 20, 2022 - 11:07am

main_st._theater_2.jpgNow that the City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee has put its stamp of approval on exterior changes to the Main Street side of the City Centre Mall, the project manager for the Batavia Players’ Main Street 56 Theater said he hopes construction-related issues won’t delay the project.

“We want to start as soon as possible, but the industry is short on materials and people. So, we'll have to work on a schedule to see when we can get people started again,” David Ciurzynski of Ciurzynski Consulting said today.

The City PDC on Tuesday night voted in favor of the new lighted façade that will serve as the primary entrance to the new theater.

Ciurzynski said he will speak to the architect about some necessary minor changes to the plan as requested by City Code Enforcement Officer Doug Randall, and then he will begin the bidding process for contractors next month.

When asked if the work will be done by December, he said, “We're really hoping that's the case. I don't see why we couldn't but it's going to really depend on labor and material availability. People and materials are the biggest challenges in construction right now, along with pricing.”

The façade, a storefront glass system with two levels, will “activate” that section of the mall and “give it a little bit of life,” Ciurzynski said.

“The upper piece will have an etched glass with an under-light LED strip that will add a little interest to the glass with the etching on it,” he said. “The etched glass will have the logo. When you light it at night, the logo will kind of glow instead of having this big marquee that sticks out in front of you.”

Ciurzynski said that will be the main entrance – the place people will enter the theater to access the ticket booth and concessions. Another smaller entrance will be available on the north side of the mall.

An open house and special craft/vendor show in the temporary theater space and dance academy is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, April 30. A hotdog stand will be operated by the Batavia Lions Club.

April 12, 2022 - 1:20pm

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Just as in a dance recital or musical, executing all the “steps” properly are vital in the process of redeveloping existing space into an attractive public venue.

Patrick Burk, president, executive and artistic director of the Batavia Players, today said he understands the significance of the Main Street 56 Theater project reaching the planning board stage over the next week.

The Genesee County Planning Board will be considering the Downtown Revitalization Initiative site plan on Thursday night, and the City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee is on track to do the same on April 19.

“It's wonderful that we have a lot of people working on the project that, I guess I could say, know what they're doing,” Burk said. “I'm learning as we go and making sure that we keep putting one foot in front of the other, whether it's a big step or a small step. It looks like over the next week or so, we're going to be making some pretty big steps – moving forward to getting more of the construction work done.”

Batavia Players, Inc., was awarded more than $700,000 from New York State’s DRI and another $400,000 from the NY Main Street Grant program to transform space at the City Centre into a contemporary theater to showcase its productions.

“And we raised about $210,000 ourselves, and we're continually working to raise that that dollar amount even higher as we need it for the work that we're doing,” Burk said, noting that the project will cost in the $1.5 million range.

For the past 20 months or so, the troupe has been performing in a temporary space at the City Centre.

“We call it our backstage theater because we have so much space there that we're using right now,” Burk said. “We're performing in that space while the construction is going on.”

The Batavia Players presented Shakespeare in Springtime: Love’s Labour’s Lost in March, and will be presenting The Springtime Music Spectacular: Back on the Boards Again, a tribute to Stephen Sondheim, on April 22-24.

OPEN HOUSE SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 30

A special craft/vendor show, including a hotdog stand operated by the Batavia Lions Club, is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 30.

“That’s when we will have our open house in the temporary theater space and in our dance academy,” Burk said. “We’re also going to be showing the space as it stands right now -- wherever they're at on April 30 -- so that people can see the development of the space. So, yes, we will be going into the construction space as well.”

As far as when the new facility will be ready, Burk said he hopes construction will be done by the Batavia Players’ Christmas show – Meredith Willson’s Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical – in early December.

For now, he said he’s excited that the project is in the hands of the two planning boards.

“I'm so thrilled that we're going to the county planning board because that's a big step. We have to have approval for that because we sit on a state highway. And our frontage is on a state highway and we're making quote, unquote, significant changes to that frontage,” he said.

Burk said the site plans and architectural drawings are “sitting there at City Hall, all set and ready to go.”

“We’re just waiting for these approvals, and we’re hoping that it moves forward as quickly as possible,” he said. “Once that step is done, it will be gangbusters, since we’ve been assured by our construction manager that it’s going to go pretty solidly and pretty quickly.”

More information about the Batavia Players can be found at www.bataviaplayers.org

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Top: Architect's rendering of the facade of Main Street 56 Theater, the new home of the Batavia Players, which is under construction at the City Centre. Bottom: The way it looks now -- unfinished -- next to Genesee Dental along Main Street. Bottom photo by Mike Pettinella.

March 2, 2022 - 3:50pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, arts, Batavia Players, Main St 56 Theater, batavia.

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It looked like the Batavia Players cast had quite a party as show Director Anthony Baldwin-Giambrone dropped empty beer bottles into a cooler near the stage Monday evening.

There was a party, he said, however, only as part of the 2022 Shakespeare in Springtime series. Beer-drinking during a yearly Shakespearean staple? Only when the setting has been switched up from the typical 16th Century scenario of kings, queens, and jesters, to a modern-day educational setting.

“We took the entire show and set it at a college, with a fraternity house and a sorority house,” Baldwin-Giambrone said during rehearsals at the new venue inside City Centre. “We had this play ready to go in March 2020 … we have two-thirds of the original cast back. We had to recast eight people, and we bumped up an actor from a small role to a lead role.”\

The show didn’t go on then, as all things COVID-19 shut it down. Fast forward two years and construction of the new theater is still in progress as new and returning cast members rehearse in The Backstage space that accommodates 84 patrons. Known as “black box theater,” this space offers a close-up view of the action. It was a welcome sight for 34-year-old Justin Chortie, he said.

“It’s nice and intimate,” the North Tonawanda actor said. “I haven’t done black box since college.”

He plays Ferdinand the King, aka president of the fraternity. Thought to be sort of snobby, his character convinces his friends to give up girls for a while. Of course, this wouldn’t be a comical love story if the king actually followed his own advice, as Chortie said, and the king’s own words get him into hot water.

Chortie believes the two-hour round trip for rehearsals is worth it. He had but one word for why: passion.

“To hear the audience laugh, it’s adrenaline almost, it’s like a drug,” he said. “I mean, it's wild. You gotta go. You’ve got kings and princesses, but they're not really kings and princesses; they're fraternities and sororities. There's all kinds of fun.”

The show is Love’s Labour’s Lost, and it’s set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m Sunday at The Backstage at Main St. 56 Theater, Batavia. For those unfamiliar with this new space at Batavia City Centre, the entrance is a purple door next to Batavia Family Dental.

Love's Labour's Lost is one of William Shakespeare's early comedies, believed to have been written in the mid-1590s for a performance before Queen Elizabeth I. The King of Navarre and his three companions attempt to swear off the company of women for three years in order to focus on study and fasting. They break their oath through a subsequent infatuation with the Princess of France and her ladies. The play closes with the death of the Princess's father, and all weddings are delayed for a year.

Although Baldwin-Giambrone is no stranger to the Players troop or the Shakespeare series, this is his first time directing this particular show. A resident of Kenmore, he is one of a big handful of actors and staff driving to and from rehearsals after a more typical day job. 

For this director, he goes from being a special education high school math teacher by day to working with a cast of 18 people at night. Think Shakespeare is dull, dry, and a ho-hum display of antiquated dialect? Think again, he and his cast members said. This is a show they described as “fun and funny.”

What hasn’t been so funny is how that unyielding pandemic wiped out this show two years ago.

“We were two weeks away from opening. And then we were shut down before we opened. And then with COVID, we had to make sure we were wearing masks at all rehearsals,” he said. “And then I know my assistant director, Jane (Burk), she actually, after every single rehearsal, stayed after and wiped down all the surfaces and sprayed and cleaned everything.”

Pushing COVID repercussions aside, Baldwin-Giambrone ran with the comical theme of Love’s Labour’s Lost. He replaced the more regal characters of kings and queens with frat boys and sorority sisters and paired them by personality — over the top and very clear cut  — such as the dumb blonds and the studious ones. 

“And they’re funny because this is a comedy. So it’s very funny seeing them do their very stereotypical distinct personalities,” he said. “The biggest challenge, I would say, was rehearsing in a shorter time period … just being able to get in here and start working with people to begin scheduling and everything. It just was a lot more tight.”

Dorothy Gerhart of Alabama had to drop her former role of Holofernes for the sorority mom, Boyet. It wasn’t really a bigger role, she said, because she counted the lines, and they were about equal. However, the mom role provided opportunity for more fun, she said. Her outfits are wild and colorful, with leopard, tie-dye, and purple pok-a-dot patterns. 

“I think she graduated from college but never really left,” Gerhart said. “She sees herself as one of the girls. She’s kind of the comedy relief, with a lot of funny lines.”

Aaron Klafehn is another newcomer to the Players, though not at all new to acting, he said. Working in quality control for HP Hood in Batavia, the 34-year-old discovered Batavia Players through his partner, the show's assistant costumer Marshall McCall. Klafehn has been interested in theater since elementary school. He plays the role of Costard, who he describes as a “chaos-causing math teacher.”

“He purposely does things incorrectly, to try and get a rise out of someone else,” Klafehn said, adding that he had a hiatus from theater during the last couple of years. “I fell right back into it, and am making new connections. It’s much different than the day-to-day aspects of what I do. It’s fun to bring someone’s creation to life. I try and make sure that it's as organic to the character that I'm creating as possible, rather than trying to imitate or copy someone else's. I'm excited to be back performing again, and very excited to see the new performing space when it's finished.”

Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, go to: showtix4u.com

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Top photo: Shaun Coburn, Justin Chortie and James Barcomb run through a rehearsal Tuesday night of Batavia Players' upcoming Love's Labour's Lost, which is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at The Backstage at Main St. 56 Theater, Batavia City Centre. The actors are joined by Sam Bowman, shown in the fourth photo from the top, during mandatory masked rehearsals for the Shakespeare in Springtime Series comedy by Batavia Players. Photos by Howard Owens. Editor's Note: Due to scheduling conflicts, this rehearsal was not in costume. 

June 7, 2021 - 4:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Players, city centre, batavia, news.

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The Batavia Players cut the ribbon on Sunday night on the company's new dance studio in City Centre.

Director Pat Burk called it a state-of-the-art facility. 

Cutting the ribbon is dance student Lucy LeFevre along with instructor Briana Blair Kelly while students Jocelyn Coburn and Samantha Balbi hold the ribbon.

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June 7, 2021 - 2:54pm

From Main St. 56 Theater:

Main St. 56 Theater, home of the Batavia Players, will hold Summer Theater Camp 2021 in two sessions next month.

Workshops will include: theater background -- monologues; pantomime -- improvisation; dancing, singing, skits.

  • For campers ages 5 to 8 (5-year-olds must have completed kindergarten), camp will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 19 to 23.
  • For campers age 9 to 12, camp will run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 26 to 30.

Tuition is $175 per camper.

Campers must provide their own lunches, snacks and beverages.

All COVID-19 regulations and guidelines will be followed.

Arrangements may be made ahead of time for early drop off and late pick up with an additional charge.

For more information or to register your camper, contact Kathy White at:   kathyw[email protected]

April 16, 2021 - 3:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Yngodess Shop, news, Batavia Players, arts, entertainment.

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Jilian Helwig won a large, wine-filled gift basket in a drawing yesterday in a drawing at The YNGodess Shop as a fundraiser for Batavia Players, which is moving its theater on Harvester Avenue to a Main Street location in City Centre in Downtown Batavia.

YNGodess owner Chris Crocker drew the winning ticket.

The raffle raised $5,800 for Batavia Players.

April 8, 2021 - 10:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in poetry, Batavia Players, video.
Video Sponsor

"Dirty Face" by Shel Silverstein read by Avelynn William for National Poetry Month.

April 7, 2021 - 6:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in poetry, video, poetry month, Batavia Players.
Video Sponsor

Poetry Month: "The Shortest Day" by Sarah Cooper read by Wendy Williams.

April 6, 2021 - 5:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in poetry, Batavia Players, video.
Video Sponsor

April is National Poetry Month, and as we did last year, we've asked Batavia Players to read some poems for us. Today, "Pangur Ban" is read by Dorothy Gerhart.

You, members of our community, are also invited to submit videos of yourself reading a poem. Please record your video with your camera set to produce a horizontal frame, keep it steady, well-lit with good quality audio. You can send us your video via wetransfer.com, emailed to: [email protected].

April 2, 2021 - 11:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in poetry, Batavia Players.
Video Sponsor

April is National Poetry Month, and as we did last year, we've asked Batavia Players to read some poems for us. We start with 'In the Woods' by Oscar Wilde read by Stephen VanValkenburg. 

You, members of our community, are also invited to submit videos of yourself reading a poem. Please record your video with your camera set to produce a horizontal frame, keep it steady, well-lit with good quality audio. You can send us your video via wetransfer.com, emailed to: [email protected].

April 26, 2020 - 2:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in poetry, news, arts, entertiament, Batavia Players.
Video Sponsor

Avey Williams reads Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess. Avey is associated with Batavia Players.

April 23, 2020 - 3:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in poetry, news, video, Batavia Players.
Video Sponsor

Jane Burk reads "Reflections on Man" from "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare. Burk is a member of Batavia Players.

April 16, 2020 - 10:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in poetry, news, video, Batavia Players.
Video Sponsor

Wendy Williams reads "Fern Hill" by Dylan Thomas. Williams is a member of Batavia Players.

Below, a video analysis of the poem.

April 13, 2020 - 10:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in poetry, news, Batavia Players, video, arts, entertainment.
Video Sponsor

Jessica Hill, an artist in residence with Batavia Players, reads William Shakespeare's Sonnet 116.

April 11, 2020 - 4:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in poetry, news, Batavia Players.
Video Sponsor

Two poems by Harold Pinter read by Rodrigo Beilfuss, artistic director of Shakespeare in the Ruins in Manitoba, Canada, and an artist in residence at the Harvester 56 Theater.

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