Saturday’s jazz concert to help fund Lyric Theater’s move

Hannah Bajakian paints a sign for the Witch’s Castle while doing set work for the Watertown Lyric Theater youth program’s production of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Amanda Morrison / NNY Living

Hannah Bajakian paints a sign for the Witch’s Castle while doing set work for the Watertown Lyric Theater youth program’s production of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Amanda Morrison / NNY Living

The show must go — somewhere.

Watertown Lyric Theater finds itself in the same situation as Little Theatre of Watertown: in a search for a place it can call home.

The popular local community theater group also must find a new venue to host performances after leaving the Black River Valley Club, whose Washington Street building downtown is expected to be sold to Purcell Construction Co.

Kevin R. Kitto, Lyric Theater’s business manager, said the group needs to find a place to call home. Like its counterpart, Lyric Theater — which specializes in musicals — no longer will be able to use the Black River Valley Club for smaller shows, rehearsals, a basement to build its stage sets and space for storage.

And Lyric Theater will need to finance the move.

That’s where Garrett L. McCarthy, who’s been involved in saving the old Masonic Temple on Washington Street, comes in. Mr. McCarthy, a Henderson muralist and artist, has organized a fundraising concert for Saturday.

“Garrett just came along and said he wanted to help,” Mr. Kitto said. “He’s a big supporter of the local arts.”

Billed as a “Night of Jazz,” the concert, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Asbury United Methodist Church, 327 Franklin St., will feature New York City jazz singer James Rich, a Syracuse University alumnus who has toured as a backup singer with Harry Belafonte and was a lead in the national touring company of “Rent.” [Read more…]

Theatrical revival: Old Kallet movie house in Pulaski renovated and ready to rock

Kallet manager Steven J. York points out items in the theater’s history room. Justin Sorensen / NNY Living

Kallet manager Steven J. York points out items in the theater’s history room. Justin Sorensen / NNY Living

The Kallet Theater hopes to become a central attraction for tourists passing through the village.

The theater celebrated its grand opening in November after undergoing several months of renovations led by owners Vincent G. Lobdell Sr. and son Vincent Jr.

Mr. Lobdell Sr. is founder and president of HealthWay Home Products Inc., an air purification manufacturer based in Pulaski.

Karen R. Hurd, operations manager at the Kallet, said Mr. Lobdell has always been an active community member.

“He lives right here, and he wants to benefit and bring jobs to the community,” said Mrs. Hurd. “He and his son come to every show they can.”

With the support of many community members and local contractors, the father-son team brought the Kallet Theater back to life. Today, it sits revitalized — a reflection of 20th century charm. [Read more…]

Carthage filmmaker to debut his second film, “Hold ’Em,” in July at Syracuse theater

The main cast of ‘Hold ‘Em,’ from left: David Iannotti, Richard Cooke, Peter Doroha, Jay Storey, John Henderson, Eric Scordo and Dalton Beach. RICH KRAEMER

The main cast of ‘Hold ‘Em,’ from left: David Iannotti, Richard Cooke, Peter Doroha, Jay Storey, John Henderson, Eric Scordo and Dalton Beach. RICH KRAEMER

Following the surprising success of his first movie, a strong follow-up film was literally in the cards for Clay J. Dumaw.

Mr. Dumaw’s horror film “Get Out Alive,” released in 2012, which he wrote and directed and shot locally, consumed two years of his life. Now, with added confidence, he has released the thriller “Hold ’Em” with plans already in the works for his next film.

“In the first film, we were just trying to figure out, ‘Can we do this?’” said Mr. Dumaw, a 2007 graduate of Carthage Central School.

“Get Out Alive” has made back its approximate $10,000 budget, mainly through downloads on It was mostly shot in Carthage. Mr. Dumaw’s new movie, “Hold ’Em,” was shot in Watertown and Carthage last summer.

“Hold ’Em,” which premieres July 10 in Syracuse, features a World Series of Poker-meets-“Hunger Games” scenario. Its tagline: “The entry fee is your life.” It features amateur local actors and another, Jay Storey, with professional experience. He plays Nathaniel Savage, the sinister host of the high-stakes card game, in “Hold ’Em.” Mr. Storey, who grew up near Calcium, was also in “Get Out Alive.”

For his follow-up project, Mr. Dumaw wanted to focus on a more coherent script with better characterization and sharper dialogue.


The idea for the movie was pitched to Mr. Dumaw by fellow Carthage resident Richard E. Cooke, who plays “Hold ’Em” main character Jake Emerson.

Mr. Cooke enjoys watching sports, including the “odd ones” like curling and darts. But the pressure of televised high stakes poker always intrigued him.

“It’s you versus the other guy and you have to bluff the other guy out,” Mr. Cooke said. “There’s so much pressure and you are on TV with millions of dollars on the line. It dawned on me: What if it was even worse? What if these guys were playing for their lives? I just wrote that idea down.”

Mr. Cooke learned about Mr. Dumaw’s first film through social media and the two developed a friendship. Mr. Cooke took his movie idea to Mr. Dumaw.

“He only had the bare idea for it, but I was like, ‘If you turn that into a screenplay and hand it to me, I will make it,’” Mr. Dumaw said.

Mr. Cooke went home and wrote the script in two days in longhand. The pair then tweaked it.

But the film ended up dealing out something else for Mr. Cooke. As he and Mr. Dumaw searched for an actor to play the lead character, Jake Emerson, Mr. Cooke said he’d like to give it a shot. He had no acting experience.

The results are impressive. Mr. Cooke obviously feels comfortable in front of the camera.

“When we started shooting, Clay said, ‘You are pretty natural at this,’” Mr. Cooke said. “Then a few other people said it. And lately, I’ve gotten a lot of that.”

Mr. Cooke, who attended General Brown Central School, said he developed his sense of acting through the resolute watching of movies.

“I didn’t just watch them, I studied them,” he said. “I studied mannerisms, personalities and things like that.”

Mr. Cooke is glad he took a chance on acting in “Hold ’Em.”

“I always knew I could do it,” he said. “But I was scared about how other people would take it. I had self-image issues.”

learning from mistakes

Mr. Dumaw said he learned not to make the same mistakes with “Hold ’Em” that he made in his first movie. For example, he said he over-relied on a tripod for “Get Out Alive.”

“Those shots were really static and boring,” he said. “As it went on, we were running out of time, so we had to shoot with a hand-held (camera) out of necessity and less time to set up. But we noticed the hand-held gave it a cool look.”

There are only two shots in “Hold ’Em” that are from a tripod-set camera.

Mr. Dumaw said he also learned to make better use of his schedule and resources.

“In the last movie, I wrote it without thinking about what resources that I had,” Mr. Dumaw said. “When we wrote this script, we made a list of the stuff we had.”

The items ranged from a warehouse (at Slack Chemical in Carthage) where the card games are held to vehicles and a card table.

Local viewers of “Hold ’Em” will recognize the settings in the film — from Watertown’s Thompson Park to Public Square. Mr. Dumaw said the film crew managed to raise some eyebrows, and recalled one scene that was filmed at 2 a.m. on a Saturday last year.

“It was right when all the bars were getting out and we had to shoot around all these drunk people who kept jumping into the shots,” he said. “We have so many outtakes of drunk people photo-bombing.”

building on success

The entry fee for attending the premiere of “Hold ’Em” in Syracuse will help the filmmaker pay to enter the 82-minute movie in film festivals and send it out to agents.

“Right now, I just do it because it’s fun,” Mr. Dumaw said of his filmmaking. “But eventually, I want a career in it.”

Mr. Dumaw will be the cinematographer on a production in St. Louis later this month. It’s an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s short story “The End of Something.” David Fichtenmayer, the lead actor from “Get Out Alive,” is producing it.

“He liked my work, so he wanted me to work on his film,” which will be shown to Warner Bros. executives, Mr. Dumaw said.

Mr. Cooke said he hopes his movie career advances. He plans to pursue acting professionally. His inspiration is his sister, Norma Jean Riddick, a General Brown graduate who is a successful actress and comedian in Los Angeles.

“Only a few people knew I wanted to get into acting,” Mr. Cooke said. “It was always a daydream. I’m 39 now. But it doesn’t mean I can’t give it a shot and try.”

Mr. Dumaw and Mr. Cooke plan to work together on Mr. Dumaw’s next film.

“I can’t give away too much but it’s a comedy; complete polar opposite of what I’m doing right now,” Mr. Dumaw said. “I’m trying to get away from the scary stuff because I feel like I’m getting pigeon-holed. I like scary movies but I’m not obsessed with them. I actually prefer to do funny stuff.”


[Read more…]

Broadway pro surprises Stage Notes group, will direct ‘Les Miserables’ musical

Broadway professional Stanley J. Joseph leads Stage Notes in a rehearsal on Saturday morning. Amanda Morrison / NNY Living

Broadway professional Stanley J. Joseph leads Stage Notes in a rehearsal on Saturday morning. Amanda Morrison / NNY Living

The “Les Miserables” production cast from Stage Notes — a theater group with students from grades 7 through 12 — sat patiently together at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Patrick’s Church before their rehearsal.

The group was told a surprise announcement would be made Saturday at the church, 123 S. Massey St. But details weren’t disclosed by Ticia K. Marra, director of the nonprofit theater production company.

The secret was spilled about 10:15 a.m., though, when Broadway professional Stanley J. Joseph unexpectedly walked into the church, facing the group to make an announcement: “The surprise is that I’m actually conducting your show,” he said, watching the faces of teens light up with elation. Wowed by the news, several girls cupped their hands over their mouths in shock.

The group was taken aback by the sudden appearance of Mr. Joseph, who had met students when they attended a theater workshop April 5 at a Broadway studio in Manhattan. Stage Notes has been practicing since April for its musical performance of “Les Miserables,” which will be put on at 7 p.m. July 9 through 12 in Jefferson Community College’s Sturtz Theater.

Mr. Joseph, who will conduct an orchestra that will be hired for the production, said he was impressed by the “incredibly talented” group of students who attended the “Broadway Classroom” workshop in April. As an experienced musical director, Mr. Joseph and other Broadway professionals host workshops offered by for high school students in New York City. [Read more…]

Jane Bowman Jenkins to reprise Lucy Stickler role for hospital benefit

Jane Bowman Jenkins will reprise her role as Lucy Stickler next Friday at a benefit for the Carthage Area Hospital Auxiliary. Watertown Daily Times

Jane Bowman Jenkins will reprise her role as Lucy Stickler next Friday at a benefit for the Carthage Area Hospital Auxiliary. Watertown Daily Times

Lucy Stickler has been an enduring character for local veteran thespian Jane Bowman Jenkins.

The character will come alive for her and audiences again at a fundraising dinner-theater next Friday at Belva’s Sahara Restaurant. The event will benefit the Carthage Area Hospital Auxiliary.

Little Theatre of Watertown staged “Murderers” by Jeffrey Hatcher in the summer of 2008. The dark comedy consists of three comic monologues from killers who live at a Florida nursing home. Mrs. Jenkins played Lucy Stickler in the monologue “Margaret Faydle Comes to Town.” [Read more…]

Summer lineup at the Clayton Opera House

Comedian Rob Schneider kicks off the summer season at the Clayton Opera House on June 20. Photo courtesy Neil Visel Photography.

CLAYTON — When officials at the Thousand Islands Performing Arts Fund were planning the summer 2013 season for the Clayton Opera House, some good-natured debate broke out.

“Each year, the shows seem to be getting bigger with more national names,” said TIPAF Executive Director Joseph M. Gleason. “There was some debate whether we wanted to continue that or stick with smaller shows and more of them.”

A compromise was struck. [Read more…]

Clayton Opera House, TIPAF director rediscovers his artistic stride

‘We try to make everybody welcome here at the opera house,’ says Joseph M. Gleason, Thousand Islands Performing Arts Fund executive director. Photo by Justin Sorensen/Watertown Daily Times.

CLAYTON — Joseph M. Gleason has found his stride again as theater manager.

You could see it in the swift way he moved from his third floor office to the first floor stage of the Clayton Opera House on the morning of March 8 as he and a crew prepared for the first show of the spring season. Questions were answered and directions given. Within the hour, students in grades 3 to 5 from three schools were to burst through the doors for Garry Krinsky’s “Toying With Science” matinee. [Read more…]

Little Theatre’s “Love, Loss & What I Wore” honored; reprise planned

The cast and crew of Watertown Little Theatre’s production of ‘Love, Loss, and What I Wore’ pose at the Theater Association of New York State Festival in Batavia last month. From left: Todd Thompson, Tina Thompson, Kathie Strader, Elizabeth P. Smith, Bruce Smith, Bethany Dumas, Emily Smith and Daniel Allington.

Little Theatre of Watertown’s production of “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” wrapped itself in a prestigious honor last month at the annual Theater Association of New York State Festival.

A panel of three adjudicators at the festival in Batavia, Genesee County, selected Kathie M. Strader of Watertown as Outstanding Actor for her performance in the comedy by the late Nora Ephron and her sister, Delia Ephron.

A roving adjudicator for the theater association qualified the production for the state festival after he viewed it in August when Little Theater staged it at the Clayton Opera House. The players then had to perform it at the festival in front of the three adjudicators.

Little Theatre plans an encore production of “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” from Jan. 11 to 13 at the Black River Valley Club, 131 Washington St.

[Read more…]

Little Theatre performs at state festival

The Little Theatre of Watertown’s production of “Love, Loss and What I Wore” by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron was chosen by the Theater Association of New York State to participate in its annual competition.

[Read more…]

Professional ‘Marvelous Wonderettes’ at Lake Ontario Playhouse

Ashley Marie as Cindy Lou, Melanie Burg as Missy, Caitlin Thurnauer as Susie, and Molly Garbe as Betty Jean, rehearse a song from the Marvelous Wonderettes.

SACKETS HARBOR — The return of professional theater to Lake Ontario Playhouse is a thing of “Wonderettes.”

“The Marvelous Wonderettes,” which was an off-Broadway hit, will be staged at the playhouse starting tonight and continuing on weekends through Nov. 18 with professional actresses and production staff from New York City making the trip north.

The actresses rehearsed music and choreography in New York City for several weeks and last weekend arrived in Sackets Harbor, where Lake Ontario Playhouse owner Michael R. Kinnie is directing the show. His wife, Rebecca, is producer.

However, the show’s four-member cast, music director and choreographer, who all live in New York City, were adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy. They lost at least five days of rehearsal in New York City since they were unable to get to a rehearsal space.

Mr. Kinnie said choreographer Marissa Perry used the Internet for some rehearsals.

[Read more…]