Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts’ summer Mainstage season has become a major summer attraction. With a focus on new works and exciting productions of beloved favorites, Artistic Director Scott Schwartz has worked to maintain Bay Street’s sterling reputation and establish it as one of the most progressive and impressive regional theaters in, this, its 25th anniversary year. This season offers a world premiere, a romance with a timely theme and an innovative production of a classic musical.
The season kicks off on May 31 with the world premiere of The Forgotten Woman, by Jonathan Tolins and directed by Noah Himmelstein. Billed as “High Notes. High Art. High Maintenance,” by Bay Street, The Forgotten Woman tells the story of Margaret Meier, an up-and-coming opera singer on the verge of stardom. When a charismatic reporter shows up at her hotel room for an interview, Margaret is forced to take a hard look at her life, from her career ambitions to her troubled marriage. The Forgotten Woman runs through June 19.
The operatic dysfunction gives way to a more innocent time on June 28 with The Last Night of Ballyhoo, by Alfred Uhry and directed by Will Pomerantz. The Last Night of Ballyhoo tells the story of the Freitags, a Jewish family living in Atlanta, Georgia in December 1939. The Freitags have largely abandoned Jewish tradition, instead assimilating to fit in with other upper crust families in their community. The widowed Boo and her daughters, intellectual Sunny and starry-eyed Lala, are looking forward to their country club’s annual Ballyhoo, a cotillion ball. When Sunny meets and falls for Joe, a proud Jewish man who is taken aback by the family’s self-racism, she begins to explore what her Jewish identity means to her and her family. The themes of religious prejudice and racism drive much of the action in The Last Night of Ballyhoo, but it’s romantic, light and witty and should prove to be a hit with the East End theater crowd. The Last Night of Ballyhoo runs through July 24.
The Mainstage season’s final show opens on August 2 with a special, scaled-down version of Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, directed by Michael Arden. Featuring a smaller cast and a two-piano arrangement, this classic will feel fresh and exciting to newcomers and seasoned musical theater vets alike. My Fair Lady is the story of cockney street girl Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins, who fall in love when Higgins sets out to transform Eliza into a lady fit for society. The show is known for beloved songs like “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On the Street Where You Live” and “Just You Wait (Henry Higgins).” My Fair Lady runs through August 28.
Bay Street’s Mainstage season may be the main attraction, but the theater has other great programming this spring. The theater will hold its 3rd Annual New Works Festival from April 29–May 1, showcasing four new plays in various states of development. One of the highlights will be The Man in the Ceiling, a musical with a book by East Hampton’s own Jules Feiffer and music/lyrics by acclaimed composer Andrew Lippa. Other works include The Roommate, by Jen Silverman; Community, by Stephen Kaplan; and From Ship to Shape, by Walker Vreeland. On May 28, Mario Cantone and his husband, Jerry Dixon, present How Long Has This Been Going On, an evening of laughs and musical theater.
Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For tickets and info, call 631-725-9500 or visit baystreet.org.