Four Productions Slated in Quogue
For Hampton Theatre Company’s 39th Season
The Hampton Theatre Company’s 39th season will kick off this October with the first of four productions at the Quogue Community Hall. The 2023-4 slate includes
- “Rose and Walsh,” a romantic comedy by Neil Simon (October 19 – November 5);
- “A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play” holiday reading (December 15-17);
- “Strictly Murder,” a mystery thriller by Brian Clemens (March 7 – March 24); and
- “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (May 23 – June 9).
Dedicated to longtime HTC supporters and theatre aficionados Don and Judy Gruhn, the 39th season spans comedy, romance, drama, mystery … and music. “Traditionally, our goal has been to deliver plays that inspire and entertain our audience, and we’ve recently challenged ourselves to expand our repertory to include the occasional musical,” notes HTC president Roger Moley. “In 2019 we tested the musical waters with a full-scale production of ‘Man of La Mancha,’ complete with a large cast and orchestra. Audiences loved it, and now – in a much more flexible post-Covid theatre environment – we decided to cap off our next season with what will be our biggest and most ambitious production ever.”
First up in Season 39 is “Rose and Walsh,” a late-career romantic comedy from the legendary Neil Simon, which originally premiered off-Broadway (as “Rose’s Dilemma”) in 2003. The play follows two fictional literary icons and lovers at a beach house on the East End of Long Island. Rose, celebrated but near-penniless, receives nightly visits from Walsh, the love of her life and a famous writer himself. Facing an imminent and inevitable departure, Walsh looks to secure Rose’s financial future with an extraordinary proposal that promises to change everything. The cast will include HTC veterans Rosemary Cline and Andrew Botsford as the title characters, with HTC stalwart George Loizides directing. Performances will be held Thursdays through Sundays , October 19 through November 5.
Continuing a new December tradition in Quogue, familiar HTC cast members will gather onstage for a lively one-hour-plus reading of “A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play,” Joe Landry’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens holiday classic. With the stage set to evoke the look and feel of a ‘40s radio station, the actors will take on multiple roles in the style of old-time radio plays. Andrew Botsford will direct. Readings will be offered for one weekend only, December 15-17, and will feature complimentary holiday refreshments.
In the new year, HTC will present a crackerjack murder mystery from the prolific English playwright/screenwriter/producer Brian Clemens. “Strictly Murder” is set in 1939 in Provence, France, where an English couple, Peter and Suzy, are living in idyllic isolation, far from the rumblings of the coming war. Their peace is shattered when Suzy discovers she’s been betrayed: Peter is not the man he claims to be, and in fact may be a ruthless killer on the run. When a Scotland Yard detective arrives, events become even more complicated and frightening in this dark and disturbing roller coaster of bluff … and double bluff. Mary Powers will direct the HTC production, with 13 performances from Thursday, March 7 through Sunday, March 24, 2024.
Finally, to cap off what promises to be a truly memorable season, the Hampton Theatre Company will mount its most ambitious production ever in the spring and early summer: the big, bawdy, boisterous musical comedy “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Featuring music and lyrics from Stephen Sondheim and a book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, “Forum” won six Tony Awards after premiering on Broadway in 1962, and enjoyed an impressive 964-performance run. A nonstop laughfest featuring more than a dozen toga-clad actors and a full orchestra, the musical tells the story of Pseudolus, a crafty Roman slave who struggles to win the hand of a beautiful but slow-witted courtesan named Philia for his young master, Hero, in exchange for his freedom. The musical includes an avalanche of puns, slamming doors, pratfalls, cases of mistaken identity, satirical comments on social class … and unforgettable music. The HTC production will be directed by Rosemary Cline, who helmed numerous large-scale musicals as the longtime theatre director at Westhampton Beach High School. Performances will take place Thursdays through Sundays from May 23 to June 9, 2024.
Detailed schedules, tickets and subscriptions for all upcoming Hampton Theatre Company shows – including special discounts for three-play packages – are available now at www.hamptontheatre.org, or by calling the HTC box office at 631-653-8955.
Founded in 1984, the Hampton Theatre Company began life on a shoestring and a dream at the Westhampton Beach Middle School with its first production, The Diary of Anne Frank, in 1985. The company has come a long way since its founding by James Ewing, June Ewing, and James Irving, when it had no theater, no audience, no board of directors and no capital, and performed in such venues as a tent pitched behind the Masonic Temple on Montauk Highway in the midst of an August hurricane.
Thanks to the generosity of the Village of Quogue, in 1987 the company found a permanent home at the beautiful Community Hall. There and at other venues, the company has produced more than 100 plays by a wide variety of major playwrights. Today, the HTC fills a unique niche in the Long Island performing-arts landscape. From its start as a small community group bound together by a love of live theatre, it has grown into a successful professional company, one that is still dedicated to the original dream of the founders, and still proud to draw its performers and technical expertise primarily from the surrounding area in order to present the very best in live theatre in the fall, winter and spring on Long Island’s East End.